Recently we discussed the fact Jonathan Bernier's time with the Los Angeles Kings is coming to an end. The time has finally come for the Kings to part with their backup netminder and give him a chance to compete for the starting job in a new city. At the time of our most recent article on Bernier, as many as 10 teams were believed to be interested in his services.
Now it appears three teams have emerged from the pack according to a report from Sportsnet.ca: Philadelphia, Toronto and Minnesota.
As always, we're forced to remind you that you should never read too far into these reports or rumors. The Maple Leafs, Flyers and Wild might be the top-3 contenders for Bernier at this stage, but that could change in an instant. There may be several other teams still involved that have remained hidden from the public eye.
With that being said, the report above is worth dissecting.
We all know the Flyers are about to make a major change in net. Ilyz Bryzgalov will be bought out and the team will have to find a new option or two to compete for the vacant job. It's also worth noting that the Flyers have been linked to just about every free agent or potential trade target out there, so why wouldn't they also be included in the Bernier rumors?
Minnesota and Toronto are the more interesting candidates. Toronto still doesn't seem satisfied with James Reimer despite some strong play from the netminder. The Maple Leafs were shopping for a goalie last season as well, asking about Roberto Luongo from Vancouver. A Reimer-Bernier combination might be a pretty solid duo.
Meanwhile, the Wild might be looking to shake things up in net. According to the Star Tribune, the Wild are in new contract talks with Niklas Backstrom, but they are keeping an eye on other options. Bernier represents a much cheaper option in net, coming off of a two-year, $2.5 million contract. Backstrom just finished a four-year, $24 million contract and will be an expensive asset to retain. Current Minnesota backup goaltender Josh Harding is still under contract for the next two seasons.
Where will Bernier end up? That's the big question. While it's fair to assume the Maple Leafs, Flyers and Wild are all interested, don't rule out another team (Islanders, maybe?) from pulling the trigger first.