It’s no secret the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to rebuild their roster, but one surprising name has emerged as a possible trade candidate.
According to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox, Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier is available and the club is willing to listen to offers from teams in need of an upgrade at the position. Cox said teams that could be interested include the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars.
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff openly criticized starting goalie Kari Lehtonen after Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
“I know this is hard, but the goaltending performance doesn’t match the effort of the team,” Ruff told reporters. “You need goaltending, it’s as simple as that. I know that’s hard, and it might be harsh from me, but you’re only giving up seven shots after 30 minutes, and your team hasn’t given up any chances, and the first shot goes in and it’s not a goal you like…We’re not going to win those games.”
Bernier’s play has been inconsistent this season after a very strong debut campaign in Toronto. Entering Saturday, the 26-year-old has posted an 18-18-5 record with a .916 save percentage and 2.71 goals-against average in 42 games this year.
The Quebec native is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after the 2014-15 season. He is in the final year of a contract that carries a salary cap hit of $2.9 million.
The Leafs plan to be active before Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. According to Cox, forwards Olli Jokinen, David Booth and defenceman Korbinian Holzer are the likeliest Leafs to be moved.
Another name that has popped up in recent trade rumours is Joffrey Lupul. Cox reported that the Montreal Canadiens have expressed interest in Lupul in the past, but a deal between the two clubs now looks unlikely. Montreal’s interest in the oft-injured forward was described as “lukewarm.”
Toronto traded forward David Clarkson to the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the week.