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.


    • PutzStew

      so LA is not winning enough for you? Bernier thrived there. He might need a change of scenery to get to where he was. Plus he is better then what Edmonton already has. So is Phaneuf.

      If MacT got either of these player I would give him credit for actually upgrading on current positions. No saying I like the Phanef but reality is he would be top Dman on the roster instantly and probably for the next couple years until some one develops.

      Go for it. Oilers can’t get any worst.

  • YFC Prez

    Bernier, $6.million dollar man. Got to be kidding and for 7 years.!! Mind you its the kind of deal that MacT would probably propose for this player.

    Besides, Bernier isn’t much of an upgrade over

  • vetinari

    This scares me for a number of reasons.

    First, exchanging mistakes with another team doesn’t sound like a way to get yourself out of a hole.

    Second, rumour out of Toronto (according to Sportsnet) is that the Leafs are pushing hard to also move Phaneuf.

    I could see Mr. Bold Moves hoping to make a splash and land them both in the same trade. This could end up all kinds of hurt.

    • YFC Prez

      Bernier , much better than any goalie the oilers have.

      Phaneuf , much better than any d-man the oilers have.

      I fail to see the world of hurt acquiring these players would bring on. All depends on the asking price.

      • vetinari

        That’s the point– what would go the other way?

        MacT chased David Clarkson hard and reportedly, Clarkson left money on the table from Edmonton to sign with his childhood team which could be defined as us dodging a major bullet.

        Given that Eakins was here for a year and a half telling MacT about how great the Marlies and former Marlies were, I’m nervous that the names “Yakupov” or “Eberle” could enter the equation.

        If we were talking Fasth (to replace one of their NHL goalies), Ference (to give a roster defenceman back), a prospect (Hunt? Hamilton?) and Pitsburg’s 1st, then maybe.

        • PutzStew

          So anyways, back to reality.

          Why would Torontotrade a starting goalie and a number one man for a suspected back up (maybe), a slowing Dman (doubtful), a non prospect (no) and a first (yes). Please explain to me why you would do this deal if you were Toronto.

          I suspect Eberle or Nurse or such would be the starting point and then there would be through ins. Given that a true top pairing man was coming the other way, I would still give Mact credit for doing it.

          • vetinari

            Well, for starters Toronto would dump long term debt for cap flexibility and set themselves up for a race to the bottom with Arizonia for a crack at the big 2.

            I’m not saying that that will be a deal that would attract the Leafs, only that unless they are willing to accept something less than one of our core players, a deal of that magnitude should not happen.

            If Eberle (or one of the other core players) is used as trade bait, then I would expect a better package back in return.

          • The Last Big Bear

            If the Leafs retain a relatively small amount of salary on Phaneuf ($1-2m), he becomes one of the most valuable trade targets in the league.

            He’s an overpaid #2, who is used to brutal minutes and is signed for his entire playing peak.

            Knock $1-2m off, and he’s suddenly just a #2 who is used to brutal minutes and is signed long-term to reasonable cap hit.

            That’s worth a lot.

          • PutzStew

            So we all know Edmonton has a joke of a GM but why they want to give Toronto more cap flexibility, when Toronto already has more then Edmonton??? Kind of kill your argument doesn’t it?

            Plus if Toronto is willing to eat a mil or two of salary, which is being reported, how many teams do you think will be interested in Phaneuf. 2? 4? 5? 10? I’m guess a few. It’s a chance for Edmonton to make actual change and the roster would look a whole lot different minus one Eberle and with the addition of one Phaneuf. Given the over all results of the Oilers with Eberle, it really couldn’t be any worst. Even if you want to call him a “core player”

      • PutzStew

        Bernier maybe but Phanuef ? Phanuef has been a big problem for 2 teams why be the 3rd ? Dangle the Pittsburgh 1st and a prospect D man and see what happens otherwise stay away from Toronto, remember thats where Eakins was spawned.

      • vetinari

        Good point about the salary retention.

        Toronto would have to eat a significant part of Phaneuf’s salary before you could even start the conversation about a possible trade.

  • WTF2

    I wish i could say “no! gtfo of toronto!” but honestly, what are our other options?

    there’s an extremely depleted UFA market out there, and not much of anything solid available on trade. I’d love to take Bernier, resign him for 2-3 years and live pretty comfortable in you have in net for that time. I like Ben Scrivens a lot, but he hasn’t proven himself to be consistent enough yet. If he does, and i hope he does, then you can always move Bernier out for close to the same value you brought him in for.

    But what’s the cost gonna be? I’d do next years first only on the condition that Bernier signs for 2 years rather than one. Otherwise, what? Is Marincin plus Pittsburg’s first close to enough?

  • SmythsMullet

    I’d focus on the defense in front of Scrivens firstly. He’s had flashes of potential. But what do I know?

    • SmythsMullet

      Yes, Bernier is a good goalie and yes he’d be an upgrade. Also the leafs arnt trying to move him, they’re listening to offers because they are at the start of a rebuild

        • WTF2

          If they want to get high picks for a couple years it would be in there best interest to weaken the team in net. Plus if they’re looking at a five year rebuild why would they hold onto a 27 year old goalie? I think the price would be too high for Bernier tho


    Yeah, it is so obvious looking at the numbers of Fasth and Scrivens on their past teams, combined with Dubnyk’s success elsewhere that Goaltending is NOT the problem. Defense is.

  • WTF2

    If the oilers pick 3rd overall this year, who would trade it as a package for Phaneuf and Bernier? It would instantly improve the oilers. They’d have to take salary back like Nikitin, but I’d be good with somthing like that. Although I would rather get a better dman like OEL, but beggars can’t be choosers

  • Kevwan

    You know what I don’t understand about the folks in this city that would like Phaneuf to be added to this team? These are likely the same folk that ran Dubnyk out of town for letting in one softie/”weak” goal a game, with whatever definition of weak they considered to be, but also fail to realize that Phaneuf is exactly the same – he’s good for one big mistake a game. One that almost always results in a goal. Sure, he plays reasonably well for the most part but when he breaks down, he breaks down big time.

    Plus this guy hasn’t been able to kick the reputation of being a bad guy in the locker room through his travels from Calgary to Toronto. Just what Edmonton needs, another guy who doesn’t fit in well with the guys and resists team bonding.

    Please, anyone but Phaneuf. There’s a reason they want to get rid of him – let some other team suffer with his on and off ice baggage.

    • vetinari

      What are you talking about? Bad guy in the locker room? Resists team bonding? You obviously have zero evidence of this and it’s simply nothing other than gossip girl material. Are you 12?

      Phaneuf would instantly become the best dman the oilers had since pronger.

    • YFC Prez

      I don’t put any weight at all on the rumours about Phaneuf being bad in the locker room. Ever since the Souray fiasco I’ve acceted that these rumours are at the very least blown out of proportion, if not entirely fabricated. Either way there is no way any of us fans will ever know what these players are like behind closed doors in the teams dressing room.

      What I do know is this team needs 2 too pairing d-men in a bad way. This rebuild has been stuck in a continuous loop, and it will be until the backend is fixed.

      Regardless of attitude Phaneuf is a legit top pairing blue liner. He and another like him would bring so much to this unbalanced oiler roster. If Phaneuf is available Mac T better be calling. These players are very hard to acquire via trade or fA.

      Based on our favorite hockey teams needs. I just don’t see how any of us can justifiably stick our noses up in the air at the mention of Phaneuf.

  • The Last Big Bear

    I know that he’s busy, and has a lot on his hands single-handedly carrying his team into the playoffs an all.

    But I really wish that Devan Dubnyk would troll through the Oilogosphere, and reply to every goalie-blaming article by posting a picture of his butt.

  • Darth Oiler

    This sounds horrible… so of course the Oilers are attached to it. Seems to be the modus operandi of the MacT Oilers. Throw good money after bad.

    My confidence in the Oilers making a good trade is gone. To be honest I would not be surprised if the Oilers not only took on Bernier but Phaneuf’s at a full hit and some of Horton’s salary to boot.

    If the Leafs can pull this off after the Clarkson deal, I will seriously consider becoming a Shanahan fan. If there was ever a case of making a silk purse from a sow’s ear, this would be it.

  • WTF2

    Sorry, I have zero faith in MacT’s ability to secure a first string goalie.

    He has proven on numerous occasions his judgement is seriously flawed. I cannot imagine a scenario where he is able to land a quality starting goaltender. I won’t even mention defensemen.

  • PutzStew

    Schneider isn’t a good comparable for Bernier. At the time of the trade, Schneider was coming off of 3 consecutive seasons of 25+ games played with SV%s of .927, .936, and .929. Bernier’s .919 is good, but it’s nowhere near that.

    Bernier would still be an excellent option for goal though.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Fasth is the best goaltender on both teams combined. Fix the flippen defence and he’ll be fine. Look at Dubnyk now that he’s behind a capable blueliners/back checking forwards.

    You could put an in his prime Hasek and he would struggle mightily behind these kids.

    Hire Tippett, a guy who actually coaches how to play defence, and get a couple blueline leaders in here. The rest of these kids will fall in line when better blueliners show them it can be done.

    It’s hard to learn on their own how to succeed when all these kids have done for the last 5 yrs is fail. Get capable help in here before it’s too late. Poor goaltending is the direct results of poor defending.

  • vetinari

    Look for Jeff Petry to be dealt to the Blues for a center. Vladimir Sobotkov is rumoured to be coming back. No word if any other assets are in play before the dead line, but the above trade is from a reliable source.

    • Just a Fan

      Would you ask your source why the Oilers would want a small centre under contract to another league who will be a UFA one year after he returns to the NHL

        • The Last Big Bear

          Thanks for taking the time to seek clarification on the name. It actually is Sobotka (but you already knew that). Who are you predicting the Oilers will get for Petry? I hope you can provide more than spelling advice to the readership.

      • THRNHJE

        Sobotkov plays big for his actual size. Just reference his last playoff run with the Blues. He is very good in the face-off circle and very responsible away from the puck. It has been suggested that he has an “out clause” in his current contract to return to the NHL. He can also play he wing once Driasaitl improves enough to be a regular center in the NHL. St. Louis was in a cap crunch when they let Sobotkov slip away to the KHL. He had the third line center spot on the roster prior to leaving. Getting this kind of talent for rental is a win for MacT. Your always entitled to your opinion, so why not share what you believe the Oilers will get for Petry.

  • Kevwan

    Does this line up make the playoffs?




        • PutzStew

          And Toronto would want Nikitin and Purcell why? Have you seen their roster? They are entering a full rebuild. They aren’t going to except two players, who should be playing in Europe, with extended bad contracts for two actual NHL players, both of which are starters, even though one has a bad contract.

          The rumors have Toronto eating part of Phaneuf salary even so he becomes a bad contract to a good one instantly, so now Phanuef is no longer a contract dump and you are competing with other (actual nhl gm’s) for this player. You rally think you will get a first pairing man, with a good contract and a starting goaltender your two cast offs with bad bad contracts.


          Start talking Eberle, or Nurse or 2015 1st. This is the real world. not a video game and all these GM’s are in it to win…well except Edmonton’s.

  • Ed Hod

    Why would the Oilers even contemplate about Leafs rejects?

    If they were both in the prime of their career Toronto wouldn’t be trading them now, Toronto wouldn’t suck as bad as they do and they sure as hell wouldn’t be trading them to the Oilers.

    Teams would be lining up to take them up for a play-off run and as a building block if they were that good. Unfortunately, most of the know-it alls in the media are Leaf brownnosers and are probably instructed to hype them up in hopes of getting anything for either.

    To me, the Oilers should keep Fasth and hunt from there, but for sure stay out of Toronto’s neck of the woods.

    I don’t know who Renaud Lavoie is, nor do I know what his second sentence is meant to be. Maybe he’s just making sh!t up and making it like that on purpose.

  • Zarny

    Bernier should certainly interest the Oilers. He’s instantly the best goalie in the system. How interested depends on the price.

    Reimer is just a different shade of what the Oilers already have. Any improvement would be marginal.