Bernier Needs To Be Traded To Find His Game

Yesterday, I wrote about the Toronto Maple Leafs needing to trade their captain, Dion Phaneuf before the trade deadline. Well, today another Leaf gets the “needs to be traded’ treatment. That player is Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs’ struggling former No. 1 goalie. Before you say that there is no way any other NHL team would be interested, hear me out.

Bernier entered the 2015-16 season as the Leafs’ expected starter. That ended pretty quickly as he has struggled through the first three months of the season. In 10 games so far, he has a record of 0-8-2 with a goals against average of 3.45 and a save percentage of .881. In The Hockey News recent goalie issue, they ranked the NHL’s 40 best goalies, all 30 starters and the 10 best back-ups. Bernier was still the Leafs starter at the time, so he was included for the Maple Leafs. Guess where he finished in the rankings. If you said 40th, you’d be right. He finished dead last, even below 10 of the League’s backups.

The Leafs have tried everything with Bernier. Giving him start after start to fins his game didn’t work. Sending him to the AHL didn’t work, even with the three shutouts he recorded with the Toronto Marlies. He still came back to the Leafs with the same problems he had prior to the assignment. Whether it is early goals or late goals, everything seems to be going wrong for him no matter what he does.

It’s What Is Best For Everyone

(Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports)
(Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports)

So with all that said, who would want to take on Bernier and his contract that still has another year on his contract at $4.15 million. Well, there’s definitely other teams in the NHL with struggling goalies that would probably like to change things up. The first team that comes to mind is one that is closely linked with the Leafs. That team is the Calgary Flames, whose team president is Brian Burke. The Flames have a struggling goalie in Jonas Hiller. You could say that Karri Ramo isn’t doing all that good as well, but Hiller is having a worse time.

The Leafs could make a simple swap: Bernier for Hiller. The cap hits are pretty much a wash as Hiller makes $4.5 million. Both goalies could definitely use a change of scenery. Whether it is that straight one-for-one trade or other pieces are involved, it could be good for both teams. Toronto is out from under Bernier and takes on a veteran whose contract expires at the end of the year.

In any trade for the Leafs netminder, a goalie will more than likely be part of the return. That way, the Leafs can allow Garret Sparks to go back to the Marlies and continue on their strong run in the AHL. For the same reason, the Leafs can’t just waive Bernier. Sure, he might be claimed, but if he isn’t one or two things will happen. Either he will be the starter and that will stunt Antoine Bibeau’s development or he will be the backup and imagine what that will do to his confidence.

The Leafs need to trade Jonathan Bernier. It’s what best for both of them.