Los Angeles Kings sign G Jonathan Bernier to two-year, $2.5M extension

berniersmiles.jpgIn a move that reminds me of the Washington Capitals signing their young backup goalie Michal Neuvirth, the Los Angeles Kings signed their former first round pick/backup Jonathan Bernier to a two-year extension today.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times broke the news and also has the details of the deal.

Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier has had a good few days.

On Sunday he was told he had won the backup job behind Jonathan Quick this season.

Then on Monday he agreed to a two-year contract extension worth $2.5 million. He will earn $975,000 in the 2011-12 season and $1.525 million in 2012-13. The average annual value for salary cap hit calculation is $1.25 million.

Bernier is starting the final year of his entry-level deal, which will pay him $765,000 and carries a salary cap hit of $843,333.

With this new deal, the Kings have both of their goalies wrapped up until after the 2012-13 season. After Bernier’s entry-level deal expires this season, the two goalies will take up a combined $3 million of the Kings’ salary cap for each of the 2011-12 and 12-13 seasons. Both goalies deals expire in July 2013, so the two Jonathans will have a three-year window to prove their merit as Los Angeles’s netminder tandem thanks to this deal.

Considering the league’s growing trend of spending less money on goalies, the Kings will spend less money on both goalies than most teams will invest in a single goalie. We’ll see if GM Dean Lombardi gets more than he pays for, though.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.