TORONTO – Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis isn’t making any promises for the job of Toronto’s No. 1 goaltender.
He likes his options though after acquiring Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
Bernier, stuck behind all-star goalie Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles, has been looking for more playing time and is sure to put heat on Maple Leafs incumbent James Reimer.
“Nothing is being guaranteed to anyone,” Nonis said during a conference call. “It’s a situation where we feel that we’re deeper. Both have great potential and both are going to get an opportunity to develop and hopefully realize that potential.”
Toronto gave up forward Matt Frattin, backup goaltender Ben Scrivens and a second-round pick in either the 2014 or 2015 NHL Entry Draft to land Bernier.
Nonis said it was a deal that he and Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had been discussing since almost the first week of the lockout-shortened season.
“We were close a couple times but there was always something that stopped the deal,” said Nonis. “We talked on and off for months. This deal, most of it, was in place months ago and we just found a time that was right for both sides.”
Bernier played in 14 regular-season games for the Kings in 2012-13, compiling a 9-3-1 record with a goals-against average of 1.88 and save percentage of .922.
He was taken by the Kings in the first round (11th overall) of the 2006 draft. He played in 62 career regular-season games with the Kings, compiling a 29-20-6 record, .912 save percentage, 2.36 GAA and six shutouts.
The trade definitely puts the status of Reimer as Toronto’s No. 1 in question. The Leafs signed the 25-year-old Reimer to a three-year contract extension in June 2011, but his development has been slowed by injuries.
Reimer went 19-18-5 this season with a 2.46 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He also helped the Leafs take the Bruins to the seventh game of the opening round of the playoffs.
Nonis insists the deal for Bernier should not be seen as a lack of confidence in Reimer.
“This shouldn’t be looked at like a knock on James because it’s not,” said Nonis. “I believe that when you have someone pushing you get the most out of yourself. And I think the situation here is these guys are going to push each other and we’re going to see some good goaltending because of it.”
Bernier, who made US$1.525 million this season, is eligible to become a restricted free agent, but Nonis believes signing the 24-year-old from Laval, Que., won’t be an issue.
In fact Nonis expects to be busy in the stretch heading to free agency. He says Toronto likely isn’t done making moves.
“I believe there is going to be some pieces available between now and free agency. And for a lot of different reasons,” said Nonis. “Are we looking to possibly add some other pieces? Yes. If there’s a piece that helps us long term, we’re going to be active.”
Nonis was general manager for the Canadian squad at the 2011 IIHF world championship—a team that included both Bernier and Remier.
He says the two players got along at the tournament and expects that relationship to grow on the Leafs.
“(They) seem to get along well and both played well. I’m looking forward to getting both of them together and think it’s going to be a really great fit.”
Scrivens, 26, played 20 games for the Maple Leafs this past season with a 7-9 record.
Frattin, 25, had seven goals and six assists in 25 regular-season games for the Leafs in 2012-13.
“Just want to thank MapleLeafs for a first class experience to start my pro career,” Frattin tweeted. “Very excited to join LAKings.”
King assistant GM Ron Hextall said in a video on the Kings’ official website that it was a tough situation for Bernier to be backing up a goalie like Quick.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. Jon’s been with us a long time. He’s been a great soldier for us and he’s been a very good player for us.
“Unfortunately, he’s stuck behind Jonathan Quick which is a tough situation for Jon. As a sense of fairness to him and at the timing that we felt was the best for the organization, we made the move.”
With files from Neil Davidson in Boston