Player evaluation: Bernier
First, the regularly scheduled Stanley Cup update… After its days with Slava Voynov and Andrei Loktionov in Russia, the Cup has now reached Slovenia and Anze Kopitar will have his day tomorrow (it’s now evening in Slovenia). Make sure those accordions are tuned… Also, it’s time for the annual player evaluations. For those who aren’t familiar, I’ll go through the Kings’ roster and evaluate each player in terms of what we saw this season and what we might expect next season, and then you can vote for a “grade” and we’ll see, at the end, which players graded best. Going alphabetically, we’ll start with Jonathan Bernier
This season: 16 games, 5-6-2 record, 2.36 goals-against average, .909 save percentage, 1 shutout.
The good: In his second full season as Jonathan Quick’s backup, Bernier was arguably as good as any No. 2 goalie in the league. His season got off to a rough beginning. His first start came in the second game of the season, in Berlin after a long night of European travel. His second start came at home, after Terry Murray decided to start him after Quick’s three consecutive shutouts. Bernier hit his stride in late December, when he allowed two or fewer goals in four consecutive starts. Bernier is a technically sound goalie whose economy in movement allows him to get in good position and swallow up shots.
The bad: Bernier started 22 games in 2010-11 and the plan, heading into this season, seemed to be to get him at least that many starts. Murray even raised some eyebrows in training camp when he indicated that he would go with the “hot hand’’ in goal. Quick, however, got off to a brilliant start and Bernier quickly got relegated to spot duty. Bernier started only 13 games and appeared in three others. For a 23-year-old goalie, one with great potential, that’s not enough on a personal level. On the ice, Bernier is still prone to uneven stretches, particularly in terms of controlling rebounds.
Going forward: Decision time is nearing for Bernier and the Kings. He has one more year left under his current contract, and with Quick having signed a 10-year contract extension, it’s clear that he’s the Kings’ goalie of the future. It’s reasonable to think that the Kings might now look to trade Bernier, but his name has come up in trade talks over the past year, and the Kings have been less than impressed with the offers. It’s highly possible that the Kings will keep Bernier as an insurance policy at the start of the season, then look to move him at the trade deadline or next summer. To his credit, Bernier has been a good teammate and has not publicly bemoaned his lack of playing time.