The NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, April 12 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be moved by then. We continue today with Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier.
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the teams that you can safely say are not going to make the playoffs this season, firmly putting them in the “sellers” category ahead of the NHL trade deadline.
They spent their offseason acquiring a lot of veterans on cheap, short-term contracts, presumably with the mindset of being able to flip them for future assets around this time of the season. The roster is loaded with pending unrestricted free agents that should have some value. Perhaps the most attractive rental on the roster is goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier is currently sidelined on injured reserve, but is back practicing with the team and according to coach Jeff Blashill on Thursday is inching his way closer to a return.
Assuming he is healthy, there should be a decent market for him given how well he has played this season in less than ideal circumstances for a goalie.
[Related: 2021 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker]
Bernier has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal Red Wings season, recording a .918 all situations save percentage and a .935 even-strength mark in 17 games while playing behind a porous defensive team with no offensive support.
That even-strength save percentage is actually seventh best among goalies with at least 10 appearances this season.
He has been so solid this season that the Red Wings actually have a winning record (8-6-0) in the games he has played. They are 4-15-4 in the games he does not play. In other words, he has been good! Really good! A contender in need of some extra goaltending depth should absolutely be interested, especially given how small the financial investment would be.
He is in the final year of a three-year contract that carries a $3 million salary cap number.
What the return might look like
The only downside for Detroit here is one of their most marketable rentals is probably not going to bring them a huge return. Goalies in general do not tend to bring a lot back in returns in general, and that is especially true at the trade deadline when dealing with rentals.
Based on past trade deadlines and the market for goalies the Red Wings are probably looking at a second-or third-round pick as the value here.
The most logical landing spots: Toronto, Edmonton, St. Louis
These three teams really stand out as teams that could be in the market for additional goaltending depth.
In Toronto, Frederik Andersen has really struggled this season when healthy and is currently sidelined due to injury. Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson have been great in his absence, but have they done enough to give the Maple Leafs confidence that they can be capable fallback options if Andersen is sidelined long-term or continues to struggle? What might stop Toronto in goal is they may go after a bigger deal at forward or defense.
The Blues have a lot of issues this season, mostly related to injury, but goaltending is on that list of problem spots as well. Even though Jordan Binnington signed a long-term deal his production has regressed for the second year in a row, while backup Ville Husso has not proven to be reliable yet. Bernier as a short-term rental could give them a proven backup and safety net.
The Oilers already added Alex Stalock on waivers earlier this season, so they did add some depth behind Mike Smith, but if we are being realistic here Bernier is probably better than both Mikko Koskinen and Stalock. He might even be better than Mike Smith.
Wild Card team: Washington
The Capitals’ plan for this season was to go with Ilya Samsonov and Henrik Lundqvist. When Lundqvist announced he would not be able to play this season, those plans went away. The 1B spot alongside Samsonov ended up going to Vitek Vanecek, who has been a pleasant surprise as he has taken on a far larger role than originally planned. Still, goaltending is probably the biggest question mark on this roster right now and if they wanted a veteran on the roster, well, here he is.
Team I want to see just for fun: Philadelphia
The Flyers want to see more from Carter Hart, Brian Elliott has struggled, and you have to assume they are not going to give up on the playoffs this season. Honestly: The Flyers are probably not in the market for a goalie right now. But it would be a classic Flyers move to make a move for a rental goalie in a desperate act to make the playoffs.
NHL Trade Deadline Prediction
The Blues would be my pick. When healthy their roster should be good enough to compete for a championship, but the goaltending has not been consistent enough this season and they do not have a reliable backup option behind Binnington. Their schedule the rest of the way is absolutely brutal, with 16 of their remaining 20 games coming against Vegas, Colorado, and Minnesota. Given how close Arizona (and even Los Angeles) has made the race, and how Arizona has a far more favorable schedule the rest of the way, the Blues are not in a position to be giving away any points in the standings.