Musings

Trickling Down Into Some Tragic Casual Corner – Free Agency Shopping List: Jonathan Bernier

Now that we’ve had our say on what the Hawks are going to do at goalie, and hence making this post somewhat moot, let’s explore the options we’ll be bitching about when Cam Ward is throwing up odd colors in the United Center crease as the Wild traipse off with yet another undeserved 3-1 win in December.

I’m always about taking on a goalie that Toronto threw out with the bathwater, because nothing entertains me like watching Leafs fans tie themselves into an origami crane over players who leave and they then claim they always liked. James Reimer has been perfectly serviceable in Florida splitting starts with Roberto Luongo, but hey, I’m here for more Freddie Andersen Game 7 meltdowns.

Which brings us to Bernier, who was drummed out of Toronto for Andersen and has spent the past two years backing up either John Gibson in Anaheim or Semyon Varlamov in Colorado. Thanks to both being ouchy, he’s had to make over 30 starts in each of the past two seasons.

And his even-strength SV% in those two years is .923 and .924. Now, doesn’t that look a whole lot better than Cam Ward? He’s even been decent enough on the PK, with SV%s of .892 and .886 the past two seasons. He’s just been comically bad when facing short-handed chances, which is basically noise and due to systems or whatever. It’s not make-or-break.

Bernier isn’t the biggest at 6-0, 184, and we know the Hawks prefer their goalies to be bigger. Hell, pretty much everyone does. But that hasn’t stopped him from being a decent NHL goalie, and the Hawks need “representative” behind, and possibly next to, Crawford.

Bernier may want a chance to start somewhere, but at 30 when the season starts and doing this role for the past two years, the die may have been cast. There aren’t that many starters jobs open either. Vancouver? Do you want to go there? If you want to eat shit in Ottawa for 80 games that’s probably available to you. The Islanders are one. St. Louis might be another. With Crawford’s status a complete mystery, the Hawks would probably be in that second-tier of teams for a goalie where there’s a good chance they might need you for 30-40 games instead of a backup’s normal 20-30.

The one problem is Bernier’s high-danger SV% is not good, basically .778 the past three seasons. And we know the Hawks are going to give up more than their fair share of high-danger chances. For comparison, Ward was at .804 last year, Hutton .787, and Lehner at .778. Basically, what separates starters from backups is how they do on these. The Hawks aren’t going to find another Crawford, and Bernier is about what you can do.

He’ll be more expensive than the $1M Ward is reportedly going to get. He made $2.7M last year, but coming off two years as a non-starter and not really looking like one in waiting, he can’t really expect to get much more. The extra $1.5M would buy the Hawks a lot more security than Ward would. But they’ve apparently made up their mind.

And now we can stop wasting our time.

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