Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier is coming off an impressive season where he posted a 1.87 GAA and .922 save percentage in 14 games. The 24-year-old has the potential to become a starting goaltender — just not with the Kings.
The Kings intentions on that front have been clear ever since they signed Jonathan Quick to a 10-year extension that runs through 2022-23. Now Kings GM Dean Lombardi is looking to trade Bernier rather than re-sign him as a restricted free agent.
Several teams have interest in Bernier, including the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, and Philadelphia Flyers, according to ESPN.com.
Philadelphia is perhaps the most interesting of those teams because of the drama surrounding Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov’s agent, Rich Winter, claimed that he was assured by Flyers GM Paul Holmgren that the goaltender wouldn’t be bought out this summer. Holmgren then went on the record to say, “I didn’t assure Rich Winter of anything.”
That being said, Philadelphia is reportedly reluctant to use a compliance buyout on Bryzgalov unless they have a solid Plan B already in place. A trade for Bernier would likely qualify.
Meanwhile, the Wild will only pursue Bernier if they can’t re-sign 35-year-old netminder Niklas Backstrom before he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“It’s actually exciting,” Bernier told. “But I really can’t control anything. It’s up to Dean. If there’s the right trade for him, I’m sure he’ll make the right call.
“I spoke with Dean at the end of the season, and he told me he can keep me there but also feels he kind of owed me the chance to be somewhere else [as a starter]. So I guess we’ll know in the next few weeks.”