NHL: Should the New Jersey Devils Trade for Kings Goaltender Jonathan Bernier?
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Bernier, 23, has battled for the starting job with Quick throughout his four year career, but has only appeared in 48 games since 2007 and has all but lost his chance to start in Los Angeles. Despite minimal playing time, Bernier is still considered one of the best young goaltending prospects in the NHL.
Strickland also said on his Twitter account that the New Jersey Devils are interested in trading for Bernier, who is currently a restricted free agent. The Devils recently re-signed both Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg to two-year contracts, but both are over the age of 40 and will likely not play past their current deals.
The question is: Should the Devils consider trading away players or picks for the Kings back-up goaltender?
Bernier would certainly make sense for the long term, especially with the current goaltending situation in place. Brodeur and Hedberg will both be 42 by the time their contracts expire, a very delicate and unique age for a goaltender in the NHL.
The market for young goaltending is also extremely dry after this year's offseason. Goalies under the age of 27 such as Carey Price, Jonathan Quick, Cory Schneider, Tuuka Rask and Ondrej Pavelec all re-signed with their respected organizations to long-term deals. The only other quality goaltender available right now is Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, but he has made it clear that he doesn't plan to play this season and New Jersey would have to trade for him as well.
What should NJ do?
According to Cap Geek, next year's young goaltending market doesn't look bright either. Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is set to become a free agent, but by the time his contract expires he will be 29.
The next goaltenders available after next season would be Kari Lehtonen (29), Ray Emery (29), and Brad Theissen (26) along with a list of other back-up and AHL goaltenders that haven't proven themselves in the NHL. New Jersey could choose to sign another aging goalie like Jose Theodore or Niklas Backstrom, but then they'd be back to where they are now.
However, despite this, New Jersey still needs to answer the offensive gap they have now that Zach Parise has signed with the Minnesota Wild. Free agents like Alexander Semin and Andrei Kostitsyn are still available, but if New Jersey fails to sign either one of them, they will be stuck with a huge problem going into next season.
The only option then would be to trade for someone like Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash, but they would have to send a significant package to Anaheim or Columbus to get them. If this is the case, there is no way the Devils would have the pieces to trade for both a quality forward and Bernier.
It all comes down to whether the Devils feel they need offense now or a goaltender for the future. If New Jersey wants to move on Bernier, they need to act now before other teams like Chicago or Toronto take him off the market.
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