The Toronto Maple Leafs made a big trade on Sunday, confirming long-standing rumors that they were interested in nabbing much-touted backup Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings. But what does this mean for the team and (former?) No. 1 goalie James Reimer?
GM Dave Nonis made it pretty clear during today’s press conference that he expects a healthy competition for the starts in Toronto.
“We feel – and most teams think – that goaltending is the most important position in the game,” Nonis said. “This is clearly not a knock on James. James has done a very good job. He’s improved every year and we’re expecting that to continue next season.
“I don’t think you can be deep enough at that position. We got younger and deeper today and we feel our team is stronger because of it.”
Nonis said he wasn’t able to reach Reimer following the announcement, but the message was simple: “Nothing’s being guaranteed to anybody.” (Even with Bernier’s “pedigree of success.”)
He believes that the team now has two of the top young goaltenders in the league in Bernier, 24, and Reimer, 25. While it remains to be seen, the Buds executive doesn’t expect any personality conflicts.
Even after landing Bernier, it’s clear that Toronto’s work isn’t done. Nonis admitted that he expects to make a couple moves before free agency kicks off on July 5, justifying today’s early rumblings about Dion Phaneuf.
Oh, and he also needs to sign a certain restricted free agent named Jonathan Bernier …
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It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.