The Los Angeles Kings won their fifth straight last night at the Staples Center. The 2-1 victory over Detroit came thanks in large part to a 32-save performance by goalie Jonathan Bernier, who was deservedly named the first star of the game.
For Bernier, the win improved his record to 4-1-0, complete with a 1.64 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
But perhaps more importantly, for the Kings, Bernier’s impressive stat line could make for quite the sales pitch in trade talks, possibly before the April 3 deadline.
It’s no secret the 24-year-old wants to be moved — not that you can blame him, given starter and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick is signed through 2022-23.
Bernier was drafted 11th overall in 2006 by the Kings. He’s put up impressive stats in the AHL, but has never been a full-time starter in the NHL.
In 2011-12, Bernier’s NHL numbers as Quick’s backup were passable — a 5-6-2 record with a .909 save percentage — but not great. And it was argued general manager Dean Lombardi was better off keeping Bernier in hopes those numbers improved.
Well, they improved. So, now what?
One team that’s reportedly shown interest in Bernier is Columbus, but that was before Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson was fired and replaced with Jarmo Kekalainen.
Kekalainen could still be interested. But so too could a number of teams.