Dean Lombardi went on Fan590 radio today, and was asked: "Are you getting more calls on Jonathan Bernier?"
Lombardi indicated he hadn't, because "everybody is set where they are right now in net." He then added: "I don't know how much I could listen, because he's been so good. He's been critical to us getting back on track."
He went on to list all the reasons to keep Bernier around for now:
"I'm more looking at my team right now. He's been a critical part of us this year. So, it would have to be something--don't forget, in any deal right now, you'd have to replace him. I don't have that backup goalie in the minors right now.
And like I said, he's been a big part of us winning. I think the dynamic has changed a little given how well he's played for us."
So, there are three issues here: market demand, his usefulness to the Kings, and lack of a ready replacement.
Lombardi says points out that teams made their moves in the offseason for their netminders. Bernier has been named as a possible trade chip to get Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames, but this suggestion has come from outside observers. We have no idea if the interest is there on Calgary's side, even though it seems likely they'll trade Kiprusoff down the line.
The most critical factor is that Bernier has helped the Kings a good deal this season. Quick is still getting back into form after back surgery; when losses were piling up, Bernier stepped in stabilized the situation. Bernier has won seven starts in regulation, most recently in a standout 40-save effort against Phoenix.
|Games||Starts||Even Strength SV%||Penalty Kill SV%||Total SV%|
Martin Jones, the Kings' top goalie in the AHL, is not considered ready to make the jump. So even if the Flames wanted Bernier for Iginla, would Lombardi want to move him yet? Would he be willing to make a separate trade for Ben Bishop or some other backup, when you already have such a good tandem in net?
Keeping the best roster is important
Bernier has been a part of trade deadline rumor talk for years. Both Colorado and Tampa Bay were reportedly very interested in acquiring Bernier before they eventually moved on to Varlamov (who cost a first and second round pick) and Lindback (who fetched some picks in a multi-piece deal). Lombardi's goal seems to be putting the strongest NHL roster together rather than looking to get the best trade value for his young goalie.
In our midseason goalie review, we argued that Bernier's excellent play had earned him a chance at more starts. I'm encouraged that Lombardi seems to want to keep him for now.
Bernier's play can only make him more attractive to other teams. But since he's become so important to the Kings this season, the inevitable trade might wait until the 2013 draft.
What do you think? Should the Kings move him if they can get a good enough return, or should they hang onto Bernier this season no matter what?