Does the answer to the Oilers goaltending lie in Toronto?

Craig MacTavish10

For the second season in a row, Craig MacTavish finds Edmonton’s goaltending in need of an overhaul. Last year, he looked for answers before the trade deadline, adding Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth in exchange for draft picks rather than waiting for the summer to make a move.

History may be about to repeat itself, and rumour has it that the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs may be the target.

Jonathan Bernier

Jonathan Bernier is in the prime of his career, turning 27 in August. The 2006 11th overall pick is in the final year of a contract with a $2.9 million cap hit and becomes a restricted free agent this season. He has a career 0.917 save percentage over 160 NHL games, meaning that he doesn’t have an overly long track record but what he has done is impressive.

How does he stack up to his teammates?

Los Angeles Kings goalies, 2009-13:

  • Jonathan Bernier: 28-17-6, 1,435 shots, 0.916 save percentage
  • Jonathan Quick: 127-80-27, 6,310 shots, 0.915 save percentage

Toronto Maple Leafs goalies, 2013-15:

  • Jonathan Bernier: 44-38-12, 3,085 shots, 0.919 save percentage
  • James Reimer: 19-29-1, 1,816 shots, 0.909 save percentage

The evidence suggests that Bernier is a pretty good goalie, above average and perhaps better than that as a starter. He was able to go toe-to-toe with Jonathan Quick in limited usage behind a team with a formidable defensive reputation; he’s been better than that for a team without much of a defensive reputation.

Bernier fetched a second round pick, Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin in trade two years ago. He’ll cost more to acquire now that he has more of a track record. After that, Edmonton would need to sign him to an extension, probably something long-term and big money.

Cory Schneider might be a name worth remembering here. New Jersey spent a ninth overall pick to acquire him, and recently signed him to a seven-year, $42 million contract. Both the acquisition cost and the contract dollars are probably a good place to start if we’re talking about the Oilers acquiring Bernier.

James Reimer

James Reimer is also in the prime of his career, turning 27 in two weeks. The 2006 99th overall pick is in the first year of a two-season contract with a $2.3 million cap hit and becomes an unrestricted free agent afterward. He has a career 0.913 save percentage over 165 NHL games, meaning that he too lacks an overly long track record, and that his career number is only middling.

How does he stack up to his teammates?

Toronto Maple Leafs goalies, 2011-15:

  • Jonathan Bernier: 44-38-12, 3,085 shots, 0.919 save percentage
  • James Reimer: 72-61-15, 4,919 shots, 0.913 save percentage
  • Ben Scrivens: 11-14-2, 901 shots, 0.910 save percentage
  • Jean-Sebastien Giguere: 11-11-4, 777 shots, 0.900 save percentage
  • Jonas Gustavsson: 23-30-6, 1,767 shots, 0.898 save percentage

Reimer’s a bigger gamble than Bernier, and has been outperformed by his teammate during their time together. He has been better than Toronto’s other options, including current Edmonton No. 1 Ben Scrivens.

He would doubtless be a much cheaper acquisition than Bernier, and Edmonton wouldn’t have to worry about a new contract for another year. The problem is that he’s also much less likely to solve the Oilers’ goaltending problems than Bernier is.

Both players are rational options for a team in search of a goaltending fix. One will cost a fortune and almost certainly fix the problem; the other will be a lot cheaper but will mean living dangerously once again.


  • pkam

    If the oilers were smart and hired me as gm this would be next years starting lineup.










    68m cap hit, Welcome to the playoffs!

    I like my lineup because you got 4 centres, solid defence and good goaltending. Usually don’t play arm chair gm, what do you guys think

    • pkam

      Bernier probably won’t sign for 4M, Schultz not likely to sign for 3.5M and I doubt Roy will sign for 1.5M.

      Even you can sign the above 3 for the amount you stated, where is the salary of Nikitin and Ference? If you buy them out, you have to add 2.6M buyout.

      Assume the cap raise to 72M, you have 1.4M left.
      How can you sign the #13 and #14 forwards and #7 defense for 1.4M? I think the minimum salary is 525K. And I doubt you can get any real NHL player at this salary, even Acro and Lander is making 600K.

      • pkam

        Roy signed for 1 mill last year and was placed in waivers this year, I see no reason why 1.5 won’t get it done this year

        Schultz is 3.65 now and hasn’t earned any form of a raise.

        Bernier I’m not sure what he’ll get. I guessed at 4 mill. I think he still has to prove himself to hit a major payday

        Nikitin and Purcell I dump on toronto for Bernier and Phaneuf. Toronto would do this because both contracts only have 1 year left and I’d offer up this years 3rd overall pick to make them bite

        Ference can be moved tomorrow for a late pick

        Maybe find a diffrent option on the third line RW instead of Stewart, but I like what Stewart would bring

  • Anton CP

    HAHAHAHAHAH, you funny JW. I have to read the title couple of times to make sure that I read it correctly. Leafs/Answer do not belong on the same sentence, ever.

  • pkam

    I thought fans here don’t like goalie that lets in soft goals.

    Didn’t Bernier just let in the worst softie a few weeks ago against the Coyotes? One that was shot from the opponent’s blue line not his own blue line, one that was shot from 110 ft away, not 60 ft away, not a problem?

  • pkam

    I think I will probably got a lot of trashes.

    Scrivens SV% in LA Kings is 0.931 in 19 games.

    Dubnyk’s SV% behind a good defense in Minne is 0.937. Better than both Quick and Bernier.

    2 years ago, Bernier and Dubnyks were selected for the Splenger cup. Bernier got the starter but lost it to Dubnyk.

    Does Bernier let in soft goals? How about a shot from 110 ft away?

    So we traded Dubnyk for Hendricks, how much are we going to pay for Bernier?

      • pkam

        The last few games, our defense and scrivens are doing much better than before.

        If we can get one or two top pairing defensman, I think Scrivens and Fasth have a chance to play better.

        Another thing I notice is both Scrivens and Fasth seem to do better after rest but start to fall off after 2-3 starts. I think it must be very exhausting mentally and physically behind our porous defense. So if we can keep them fresh by not playing them more than 3 games in a row, perhaps we can see some improvement.

        I’ll wait and see how Scrivens and Fasth are doing in the rest of this season. I don’t think another goalie, especially young and inexperienced, is the answer. If we really want to get a goalie, I’ll rather go after Schneider. I’m not sure Bernier is really better than Dubnyk, but I believe Schneider is.

  • Kevwan

    I like Bernier but at nowhere near the price Willis suggests.

    Neuvirth is the same age and his career stats aren’t that far behind Bernier. Not a lot of love for Niemi on ON but his career stats are very comparable to Bernier. Both are UFA this summer.

    I hope the Oilers save the assets and salary to acquire a couple of D.

  • pkam

    Somewhere Scrivens is thinking ‘Oh No, I got out of Toronto now Oilers want to bring Bernier over here too? I was happy to get out of his shadow, I can’t run any more.’

    Scrivens was traded for each other, Bernier to Toronto 2013-14 season.

    Leafs are asking an arm and a leg for Bernier.

    Habs are dangling Zach Furcale for Petry.

    What will Petry fetch today? Good returns I hope.

    Sabres traded 2015 1st pick to Jets for Evander Kane, now they are winning games to move up, good news for Oilers fans.

    Jets are in playoff spot and lotto pick for McDavid also? So unfair.