Kings trade backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to Maple Leafs
Jonathan Bernier, the Kings’ onetime goalie of the future, will finally get his long-awaited shining opportunity. Only it will come a few years later than expected and for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There were tantalizing hints of a future promising relationship with the Kings. But in the end there were only 62 regular-season games (29 wins), not even a full game of playoff experience, and one memorable Hollywood mask.
It wasn’t quite goodbye before saying hello, but close enough.
“That was probably the one thing that I probably looked back, my time in L.A., I wish I had more opportunity to show what I could do,” Bernier said. “But in a career, it’s so short that you can’t really look back.
“You’ve got to always move forward and right now it’s time to show what I learned in three years, in my ups and downs. I’m sure that’s going to help me out in a few years coming up.”
Bernier was talking Sunday morning shortly after the Kings traded him to the Maple Leafs in exchange for winger Matt Frattin, goalie Ben Scrivens and a second-round draft pick. The pick from the Maple Leafs could be in 2014 or 2015, at Toronto’s option.
For the Kings, the deal was also sweetened by the Maple Leafs’ absorbing $500,000 worth of salary, lessening the Kings’ salary-cap issues for next season. Bernier had been in the long shadow of Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick, the playoff most valuable player in their run to the Stanley Cup last year.
“I don’t know who can have two No. 1 quarterbacks,” said Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi.
The teams had been in negotiations for about eight months, well before former AEG executive Tim Leiweke joined Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. In fact, Lombardi said he had tried to trade for Frattin a couple of years ago. It became clear he would have to move Bernier, and the urgency increased as the goalie is due to become a restricted free agent July 5.
“The market can drop on you in a hurry. Goalies are hard to move,” Lombardi said. “They’re really hard to move. You’re never going to get total value, but you try to get the best you can.”
Interest in Bernier started at about 15 teams and it appeared as though three or four teams were involved in the latter stages. Media reports had cited that the Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild had interest in Bernier and apparently so did the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Another key was to get a backup goalie, because the Kings do not think that minor leaguer Martin Jones is quite ready for the No. 2 slot in Los Angeles. The salaries coming back, the money and entire package from the Maple Leafs were a better fit.
The 26-year-old Scrivens, who will make $612,000 this coming season and will be an unrestricted free agent after that, appeared in 20 games with Toronto this past season, going 7-9-0. He had two shutouts and recorded a goals-against average of 2.69 and a save percentage of .915. His wife, Jennifer, is from Camarillo.
Frattin, 25, played in 25 games for Toronto last season, scoring seven goals and 13 points, and was a plus-six. Like Scrivens, he is going into the final year of his deal but will be a restricted free agent and is set to make $925,000.
Lombardi, for his part, also wanted to avoid becoming another Miikka Kiprusoff-type victim. In 2003, the San Jose Sharks traded the unhappy goalie to Calgary for a second-round choice.
“The touchstone for everybody to avoid is the Kiprusoff thing,” Lombardi said. “If you are in a box — all you get is a second-round pick and you trade him within the conference. ... I’m sure they didn’t want to do it.
“Then it comes back and totally haunts you. He goes on, wins the Vezina Trophy and knocks you out of the playoffs. That was in the back of my mind. You don’t want to get in that position.”
Frattin played with Brett Hextall for three years at the University of North Dakota. Hextall, a Phoenix Coyotes’ draft choice, is the son of Ron Hextall, the Kings’ assistant general manager.
Said Lombardi: “He’s a little bit of a rebel, which I like. [Coach] Darryl [Sutter] will be good for him. A good fit for us. He’s not soft. And he’s got a knack, a great release. He upgrades our speed.”
Lombardi, who will be part of Team USA management for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, will next turn his attention back to signing defenseman Rob Scuderi, who will soon be a free agent. The parties do not sound close to a deal.
“We all would love to have him back,” Lombardi said. “But as we say, with the [salary] cap coming down, it’s all about making things fit. ... With this off our plate, we’ve got a pretty good handle on our space. It gives us more certainty on how aggressive we can be. I’m glad to have closure on this and we know where we stand as far as these other holes.”
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