Tag: Toronto Maple Leafs

Jonathan Bernier

In Bernier, Leafs hope they have a stabilizing force


An argument could be made that the last goaltender to have a terrific season in Toronto was Ed Belfour back in 2002-03 and 2003-04, but perhaps Jonathan Bernier, who signed a two-year extension today, can still follow in his footsteps.

Bernier hasn’t been given the best of teams to work behind, but he did have an encouraging 2013-14 campaign with a 2.68 GAA and .923 save percentage in 55 contests on a team that ranked dead last in shots allowed per game (35.9). Last season was, at best, a mixed bag, but Toronto was also a squad in turmoil for much of that campaign.

Toronto still doesn’t have a good team on paper, but the hope is that it will at least be less prone to falling apart with Mike Babcock behind the bench. Of course, regardless of the situation, it’s up to Bernier to prove that he’s worthy of a long-term deal. He’ll turn 27 on Aug. 7, so him having promise isn’t sufficient at this point.

“The thought process is trying to get a goaltender, and hopefully it’s Jonathan, to be the stabilizer for this franchise,” Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said, per the Canadian Press. “Having that one (extra) year is both good for Jonathan and the organization, whether it’s the organization evaluating or whether it’s Jonathan proving.”

If everything goes as Lamoriello hopes, then Bernier will represent a strong presence between the pipes for when Toronto comes out the other end of its latest rebuild. If not, then the Maple Leafs goaltending will be another area that will need to be addressed. Either way, Bernier has two more seasons to show the Leafs what he’s capable of.

Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal

Jonathan Bernier

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Jonathan Bernier won’t need an arbitrator to determine his market value as the two sides have agreed to a two-year, $8.3 million extension, per Elliotte Friedman.

That comes after the Maple Leafs and Bernier went into Friday’s arbitration hearing with vastly different asking prices as Bernier was requesting a one-year deal worth $5.1 million while Toronto countered at $2.89 million. The Maple Leafs’ asking price was particularly noteworthy as it was below Bernier’s 2014-15 salary of $3.4 million, although it was roughly in line with his $2.9 million annual cap hit over the now expired two-year deal.

The final price tag is obviously closer to Bernier’s request in terms of average salary, but by making it a two-year agreement he has conceded the first season of his unrestricted free agent eligibility.

Like many of the Maple Leafs, Bernier is coming off of a rough campaign where he posted a 2.87 GAA and .912 save percentage in 58 contests. The 26-year-old (27 on Aug. 7) now has a 2.63 GAA and .916 save percentage in 175 career games.

Enforcer Justin Johnson signs AHL deal with Marlies

New York Islanders v Buffalo Sabres

The Toronto Marlies have added a little muscle to their roster for the upcoming season.

The affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs has signed tough guy Justin Johnson to an AHL deal, the club announced.

A career minor leaguer, Johnson has appeared in two career NHL games with the New York Islanders during the 2013-14 season.

For those unfamiliar with Johnson’s work, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder dropped the gloves with 6-foot-8, 259-pound John Scott in just his second NHL game.

Johnson has had a string of 100-plus penalty minute seasons in the minors.

The Anchorage, Alaska native appeared in 45 games with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces last season scoring three goals and two assists to go along with 147 penalty minutes.