Why It’s Time For the Leafs to Move on From Bernier


The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the season with one goal in mind; determine who would be sticking around long-term and figuring out who needed to be dealt sooner rather than late. After giving Jonathan Bernier a show-me two-year deal, the pressure was placed squarely on the goaltender and whether or not he could grab hold of the starter’s job in Toronto.

Bernier’s performance in his first seven games has done little to silence the questions that surround his play and legitimacy as a starting goaltender.

Since the Leafs got their taste at the postseason a few short seasons ago, the Leafs decided their time was now and needed to bring in a true-tested number one goaltender to help them reach the next level. The problem was the guy they brought in was not a true-tested number one guy but a backup to Jonathan Quick.

While Bernier seemed to be a highly touted backup goaltender in Los Angeles, the fact he was not a starting netminder and the Leafs acquired him expecting him to be the answer is alarming.

When he first came over and stole the starters job from an unsuspecting James Reimer, he proved to be a slight improvement over the man at the core of the game 7 playoff collapse. However, when January of 2015 came around, Bernier’s play came crashing down alongside the Maple Leafs.

Bernier has fallen from 5v5 numbers that rival Carey Price in 2014 to a .899 save percentage which ranks him 46th in the league. Something you don’t want to see from your starting goaltender.

This is a big season for Bernier and the Leafs. He was signed to a two-year deal and needs to put up a solid season under the coach of Mike Babcock.

He seems to be a two-taled goaltender between the pipes. Some nights he can’t seem to stop anything and other nights he comes up big and keeps the Leafs in the game. From rough starts to rock solid 56 minutes; There is no telling which Bernier will show up on a nightly basis.

The Leafs have given Bernier every opportunity to rise up and lay claim to the starter’s job in Toronto and each time he fails to do so. It’s like when hitting a home run, instead of rounding all the bases, he just stops at second and makes camp while refusing to take home plate which is rightfully his. At some point, it’s time for the Leafs to move on.

Bernier needs to find some consistency to his game in a hurry if he’s to stay in Toronto as the number-one netminder sooner rather than later. Whether it’s the media frenzy, the constant battle between him and Reimer or the poor play of the Leafs in front of him, he hasn’t been the goaltender as of late that the Leafs are looking for.

He has potential and has shown what he can do when he’s on his game and for that reason it’s time for the Leafs to part ways with Jonathan Bernier. For whatever reason, he hasn’t been able to string together the consistency of a number-one starter, yet still has respectable trade value to teams struggling through injuries and looking for a goaltender.

Running with Reimer throughout the rebuild would not be the worst move for the Leafs. Trading Bernier would bring in further prospects to develop and grow while also allowing the Leafs to see what they have in their AHL system.

Goaltenders need to be able to steal their team games. They are the backbone of games when you have no idea how a team dragged out two points. While the Leafs haven’t looked great as a whole this season, they’ve played well enough to win games with strong goaltending.

If the Leafs can find the right partner to pull a trade off with for Bernier, they should seriously look into pulling the trigger. Bernier, at least in his latest showing with the blue and while, is not an elite goaltender and the guy the Leafs need between the pipes moving forward.