Free Jonathan Bernier.
One can only imagine how frustrating Jonathan Bernier’s career has been so far. The Los Angeles Kings selected the netminder 11th overall in the 2006 NHL Draft but have used Bernier sparingly thanks to the talented Jonathan Quick clogging the path from the bench to the ice.
Bernier’s frustrations have finally boiled over as the goaltender requested a trade to a new team in order to have a chance of seeing some real playing time. Bernier anticipates he will be dealt but believes a deal won’t be reached until training camp gets a bit closer. For Bernier, a trade should bring an opportunity to finally prove himself at the NHL level.
It’s not like Bernier is expecting to be dealt to a team where he immediately becomes the #1 between the pipes. More realistically, he probably just hopes to play more games during a season than the 16 he suited up for in 2011-12. Of those 16 appearances, just 13 were starts. Bernier was barely used since making his debut in 2007, but a new long-term deal for Jonathan Quick was the final push that forced Bernier to request a trade. Barring a major injury, Quick should be the top dog in net for Los Angeles for the next 10 seasons.
If Bernier is traded and eventually sees more time, what should we expect? That’s a difficult question to answer as Bernier’s NHL sample is pretty limited. Since 2007, Bernier has played in just 48 games. Over that time he has compiled a 20-17-5 record with a 2.50 GAA and a save percentage of .910%. The stats aren’t glamorous but they are about what you might expect from a player that’s used as sparingly as Bernier is. What the numbers might not tell you is that Bernier has shown moments of pure brilliance between the pipes. He has shown he has the skills to make a real difference in the NHL.
Bernier deserves his opportunity. It’s been over six years since his name was called by the Kings in the 2006 Draft. Over those six years we have yet to see Bernier have his legitimate chance in the NHL. We’ve seen glimpses of the talent Bernier possesses but we have yet to see what he can do with an expanded role.
As for where Bernier may ultimately end up, that’s a mystery. He has stated that he would prefer to play closer to his home located in Quebec but it’s safe to assume he may sacrifice that wish for a chance to have regular playing time.
After six long years Bernier’s big opportunity may soon come knocking. It’s up to him to decide what to do with it.