HAMBURG, GERMANY - OCTOBER 04: Jonathan Bernier of Los Angeles looks on during the NHL Pre-Season game between Hamburg Freezers and Los Angeles Kings at the O2 World Arena on October 4, 2011 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bernier wants a chance to be a starter in the NHL. Jonathan Quick has that job locked up in LA. So it should come as no surprise that the young netminder confirmed that he had requested a trade at last season's deadline.
Here's something else that shouldn't surprise anyone -- the Kings refused.
Even though one reason to hang on to Bernier has been removed -- insurance if negotiations with Quick didn't go well -- plenty of others remain. Here are the facts about LA's goaltending situation:
- Injuries can happen at any time. Remember the year the Kings had to play Fukufuji? I shudder to recall it, but it drove home a point. Every team needs a quality backup who could take over as a starter.
- Martin Jones, #3 on the depth chart, is not considered ready for that role.
- There is one year left on both Quick and Bernier's contracts. That means the Kings could have one more season of a quality tandem on the cheap -- $3 million total for both.
- Bernier is only 23 years old, and will still be a restricted free agent when his contract expires.
Given all the above, if I was Dean Lombardi, I would not be in any hurry to move Bernier.
But another wave of trade speculation is sure spring from this. Some will be eager to reason that the Kings "must" move Bernier because he is unhappy, at any price, right this summer. But the Kings still need a quality backup, and he's under their control.
As for Bernier's unhappiness affecting his performance? I don't buy it. The best way for him to draw the interest of teams looking for a #1 goalie is for him to get more starts in the NHL -- that means staying sharp and performing at a high level. Cory Schneider waited until he was 26 for his shot. If he wants a trade to happen, he should keep working hard.
Others will bring up his trade value -- what if the market for goaltenders dries up? This assumes Bernier's value is at an all time high, when it's not. If you're not going to get that great of a return, it makes sense to get more use out of the player you drafted.
My take on this: the Kings should keep him as the #2 and explore trade options, but not be in any rush. And that approach is what we are hearing from reporters for the Los Angeles Times. Here's Lisa Dillman:
Been surprised before, will be again. But don't think Kings will be trading Jonathan Bernier now or in near future. He might want it. But trade value for him extremely low, through no fault of his own. This LAK regime is a lot sharper than ....well, many of the others.
The Kings may oblige Bernier's request in the end -- but they will only make a trade that makes sense.
Take a lesson from Vancouver's goalie, JB. Kick ass and sit tight.