The Toronto Maple Leafs and goaltender Jonathan Bernier didn’t need an arbitrator’s ruling after all.
Sunday morning the Maple Leafs and Bernier reached a two-year deal. According to the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle, the contract will carry a cap hit of $4.15 million each of the next two seasons with signing bonuses of $2 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17. The Maple Leafs and Bernier went to club-elected arbitration Friday, but the deal comes before an arbitrator awarded the 26-year-old netminder a new contract.
Entering arbitration, Bernier was seeking $5.1 million. Toronto had countered with a one-year offer of $2.89 million. By coming to terms on a $4.15 million per-season pact, both sides meet close to the middle, with the Maple Leafs shelling out a few extra dollars likely in order to buy a year of Bernier’s UFA eligibility. In addition, the Maple Leafs were able to hand the goaltender a two-year deal instead of a one-year contract by making the deal outside of arbitration.
Over the past two seasons, Bernier has shared the Maple Leafs’ net with James Reimer. There weren’t many questions about who the clear cut No. 1 was in Toronto, but if there were, Bernier’s new deal signifies that there is no doubt anymore.
Since coming to Toronto in 2013-14, Bernier has played in 113 games for the Maple Leafs, posting a record of 47-47-14, .918 save percentage, 2.78 goals-against average and three shutouts. While some may point to Toronto’s lack of post-season play during Bernier’s tenure in blue and white, it’d be hard to put that blame solely on his shoulders. Over the past two seasons, Toronto has had defensive woes and Bernier’s play has been stellar.
Of the 33 goaltenders to have played at least 3,500 minutes at 5-on-5 over the past two seasons, Bernier ranks 15th in SP, according to Puckalytics, which is a better mark than Frederik Andersen, Marc-Andre Fleury and Antti Niemi have fared. So even though Bernier hasn’t seen the post-season in the past two campaigns, it hasn’t been due to his own poor play.
Before coming to Toronto, Bernier spent five seasons in the Los Angeles Kings organization where he played 62 games and posted a record of 29-20-6. The Kings selected Bernier in the first-round, 11th overall, of the 2006 draft, but he became expendable in Los Angeles with the emergence of Jonathan Quick.
With Bernier locked up for the next two seasons and Reimer under contract through to the end of the upcoming campaign, the Maple Leafs now have $6.45 million tied up in goal, which is the 18th-most in the NHL.