Jonathan Bernier’s time in Los Angeles appears to be quickly coming to an end, as reports suggest the Kings’ backup netminder could soon be traded to one of a handful of destinations.
Earlier this week, Hockey Central Insider Nick Kypreos reported that Bernier would be dealt sooner rather than later and that the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs were the frontrunners. The Minnesota Wild have also joined the fray.
Many feel Bernier, who becomes a restricted free agent on July 5, is ready to be a starting goalie but simply hasn’t had the opportunity to prove it while backing up Jonathan Quick, one of the top goalies in the NHL.
“I’m still part of the L.A. Kings and it’s been a great ride, but I feel really confident and I want to get to the next level to get a real chance to hopefully be a No. 1 somewhere,” Bernier said Wednesday in an interview with ESPN.com, who report that the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers are also interested. “I’m sure the Kings will make the right decision. If I’m staying there, I’m staying there. If not, I’m ready for the challenge.
“It’s actually exciting…but I really can’t control anything. It’s up to (Kings GM Dean Lombardi). If there’s the right trade for him, I’m sure he’ll make the right call. I spoke with Dean at the end of the season, and he told me he can keep me there but also feels he kind of owed me the chance to be somewhere else.”
Bernier recently switched agents and is now with Pat Brisson, who also represents current Flyers Mark Streit and Claude Giroux.
The Flyers are reportedly considering using a compliance buyout on goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who struggled last year and who has seven years remaining on the nine-year, $51-million deal he signed as a free agent two years ago.
Despite James Reimer’s solid play in the regular and post-season the Maple Leafs are also in the discussion, as is often the case.
The Leafs made a pitch to acquire Miikka Kiprusoff from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline in March and the team was also said to be in deep talks with the Vancouver Canucks for Roberto Luongo.
The Wild’s starter, Niklas Backstrom, becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 5 and if they choose not to bring Backstrom back, they’re expected to make a strong push for Bernier.
Bernier, 24, was originally selected in the first round (11th overall) by the Kings in the 2006 NHL Draft.
In 54 career starts, Bernier has a 29-20-0-6 record with a 2.36 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
With files from Jeff Simmons