The rumors that the Kings were shopping the netminder surfaced earlier this month when the team’s blue line was decimated with injuries. Strickland adds that Bernier is still hoping for a deal that will see him serve as a number one starter as opposed to the backup role he’s found himself in behind Jonathan Quick.
Strickland reports that Kings’ GM, Dean Lombardi fielded several calls from numerous teams following the Kings championship run but was never satisified with the offered package in return for Bernier. Throw in the health concerns over Quick’s back and Lombardi was hesitant to deal the former first round pick.
To agree with Strickland, it’s hard to fathom a Bernier deal will get done prior to the Canucks moving Roberto Luongo. The Maple Leafs are said to be still interested in Luongo, who is also said to be their number one target. Bernier’s resume is far from that of Luongo’s leading to the belief that the Leafs want an established number one goalie. Bernier is believed to be able to carry the load of a starter despite only playing in 48 career games over four seasons.
His heaviest workload came in the 2010-11 season where the Quebec native played in 25 games for the Kings, posting a record of 11-8 with a 2.48 GAA and a .913 save percentage.
The Kings are said to be in the market for a top four defenseman, to help bolster their blue line after losing Matt Greene to injury. Willie Mitchell is close to returning but Lombardi is still interested in acquiring additional help on the back end.
There are a few teams that have an ample supply of NHL ready defenseman outside the Leafs. The Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres are two that come to mind and last week we learnt that Flames GM, Jay Feaster was looking to add a netminder to help provide relief for Miikka Kiprusoff. Problem being is that Bernier would again be in the backup role, leaving Toronto as the most logical destination. Here again lies the problem with Toronto’s keen interest in Luongo.
The Philadelphia Flyers were said to be in the Luongo sweepstakes but that has since died off with the belief that Ilya Bryzgalov will be bought out this summer. Other clubs that could be interested in Bernier according to Strickland include the Tampa Bay Lightning, New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets.
So it appears that Bernier will have to sit patiently until the Leafs either pass on Luongo or the Canucks lower their asking price and move their once prized possession which would open up the market for Bernier.