According to a report in the Toronto Sun and Hockey Night in Canada's Andi Petrillo, the Toronto Maple Leafs have begun their pursuit of goaltender Jonathan Bernier by making an offer to the Los Angeles Kings for the 24-year-old netminder.
While the report doesn't go into specifics and who is involved, I'd guess the offer includes one of the Leafs' top overall prospects—either Nazem Kadri or Joe Colborne—as well as a top defensive prospect like Stuart Percy, Matt Finn or Jesse Blacker. A 2013 draft pick might also be part of the offer.
GM Brian Burke initially wanted proven netminding from the likes of Roberto Luongo, but due to the asking price, the Leafs might have to explore other options. From the Sun:
"We're not looking at that avenue," Burke told Sportsnet 590 The Fan. "A couple goalies that moved are young, unproven guys. That's an avenue were not interested in. We've kicked the tires, looked at all the prices, but that's not an avenue we're looking at."
Last season, Bernier was 5-6 with 2.39 GAA and a .909 save percentage. Those numbers would have been the best among the Leafs goaltenders from last season.
After Kings goalie Jonathan Quick signed a new 10-year, $58 million extension, you could tell the days of Bernier being a King were numbered.
Among the teams still interested in Bernier are the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Leafs, with the Leafs taking the lead in the offer game.
Bernier is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $2.5 million this season.