Jonathan Bernier to Toronto Maple Leafs: Was it the Right Move?

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Jonathan Bernier to Toronto Maple Leafs: Was it the Right Move?
Harry How/Getty Images

Well, after some intense speculation over the past few days surrounding Los Angeles Kings backup netminder Jonathan Bernier and the Toronto Maple Leafs, it appears a deal has finally been struck.

According to the Kings' official website, the 2011-12 Stanley Cup champions have dealt the 24-year-old Quebec native to the Leafs in exchange for young forward Matt Frattin, backup netminder Ben Scrivens and a second round draft pick.

The move to acquire some more goaltending help can officially be labelled as GM Dave Nonis' biggest splash to date.

The question is: Was it the right move for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

A few days ago, I wrote a piece outlining why the Leafs should stay away from Bernier and stick with James Reimer and Ben Scrivens.

I still believe that keeping Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and a second round pick would have been the right move, but there are some positive aspects to this deal.

Here is a breakdown of the positive and negative parts to the Leafs making a move for Bernier.

 

Positives

The first and most obvious advantage for the Leafs is that Jonathan Bernier possesses elite talent in net.

This season, Bernier posted an incredible GAA of 1.88 and a save percentage of .922.

Coupled with Reimer's 2.46 GAA and .924 save percentage, Bernier gives Toronto a formidable one-two punch in the crease moving forward.

Next, Bernier is still only 24 years old and has already developed a game that has very few holes.

This means as time goes on, the Leafs could have not one, but two top-tier starting goalies on their hands. That bodes well for the future.

Third, Bernier coming to Toronto gives the Leafs a much-needed insurance as far as goaltending is concerned.

In each of the last two seasons, James Reimer has succumb to injuries that have sidelined him for at least 15 games.

Should this happen again in 2013-14, the Leafs can rest easily, knowing they have a very capable backup ready to take over.

Finally, the potential competition in net could push a guy like Reimer to really work on his rebound control and glove hand, two of his most glaring weaknesses.

 

Negatives

Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Onto the downside of this trade.

The most obvious loss for the Leafs here is Matt Frattin, who was really starting to come into his own in 2013.

Frattin was poised to make the jump to a full-time, top-six NHL forward. His combination of explosive speed and edginess that allowed him to be so strong on the puck will not be easy to replace.

Losing a top-60 draft selection is also something that the Leafs really should have tried to avoid.

Especially considering that, in all likelihood, the goaltender they acquired will start the season as a backup.

The third thing that stands out regarding Jonathan Bernier is that he's always been a backup, and while no one is questioning his potential, one has to wonder if it was really a necessary move. After all, this is a guy who's never played more than 25 games in a single NHL season.

Finally, it's worth noting that Bernier's stats may have been a bit inflated.

Do you think trading for Jonathan Bernier was the right move for the Leafs moving forward?

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Remember, the Los Angeles Kings are regarded as one of the best puck-possession teams in the league and pride themselves on having a stingy defensive unit.

In fact, Bernier was the beneficiary of having the league's seventh best defense in terms of goals against per game playing in front of him in 2013.

Naturally, some of that credit also belongs to him, but it's more than reasonable to question whether or not he'll be able to register the same stats playing behind Toronto's less responsible defense.

 

Conclusion

When all is said and done, acquiring Jonathan Bernier does bolster the Leafs with regards to goaltending.

There is simply no denying that.

The problem is that they did give up valuable assets to make it happen. Ultimately, the gains they receive from bringing in Bernier may not add up to as much as they lose up front and in their farm system by dealing away guys like Matt Frattin and a second-round draft selection.

Hopefully the move does work out for the Leafs in the long run.

For now, it's a questionable move at best.

 

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