This move comes just a few weeks after the Leafs acquired 26-year-old Danish netminder Frederik Andersen from the Ducks for the 30th-overall pick in the 2016 draft and a second-round selection in 2017.
The first question hockey fans asked upon hearing of the Bernier trade was: “Why wasn’t he just part of the package to acquire Andersen in the first place?” The answer has to do with money. Bernier was owed a $2-million signing bonus on July 1 and the thinking is the Ducks simply didn’t want to pay it.
Bernier’s salary cap hit in 2016-17 is set at $4.15 million and he is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Three days after the Leaf acquired Andersen, Sportsnet sat down with Bernier and the Laval, Que., native acknowledged that the Leafs might be looking to trade him.
“I’ve been through the hardest years of my career in Toronto because of the rebuild,” Bernier said. “I feel [the Leafs are] actually heading int the right direction so I’d really love to be part of it, but if it comes down to a business decision and they need to move me that’s the business. I can’t control that.”
Bernier went 12-21-3 with the Maple Leafs last season, posting a 2.88 goal-against average, .908 save percentage and a career-high three shutouts.
The 27-year-old was originally acquired by Toronto from the Los Angeles Kings in June 2013. The 11th-overall pick of the Kings from the 2006 NHL Draft is 88-88-23 with a 2.67 GAA, .915 save percentage and 12 shutouts in 213 career NHL games.
Bernier will be reunited with Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis in Anaheim. Carlyle, who coached Bernier in Toronto for a season-an-a-half from 2013-15, was named Ducks head coach last month. Nonis is a special assignment scout and consultant with the Ducks. He was the Leafs’ general manager when the team traded for Bernier three years ago.
The Maple Leafs started the 2015-16 campaign with Bernier and James Reimer as their two goalies. Now both are gone. The Leafs dealt Reimer to the San Jose Sharks prior to the Feb. 29 trade deadline and he signed a five-year contract with the Florida Panthers on July 1.
“They should’ve kept Reimer. That’s for sure,” Don Cherry told Sportsnet 590 The Fan Friday. “I couldn’t understand why they let him go. If you look at his stats they were unbelievable last year. They were in love with Bernier…I hate to say it but I never liked him from the start. Why they got rid of Reimer, I don’t understand.”