June 22, 2013 4:30 pm

Minnesota remains in the mix for Bernier

After a week in which reports surfaced that referenced Jonathan Bernier in talks with Toronto, Philadelphia and Long Island, now Minnesota has been acknowledged in negotiations with the Los Angeles Kings. The Wild have been considering the option of trading for Bernier should they decide against re-signing entrenched starter Niklas Backstrom, a restricted free agent.

Minnesota beat writer Michael Russo spoke with Bernier’s agent, Pat Brisson of CAA, on Friday. Brisson, who also represents Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane, was hired last week after Bernier fired his previous agent, Denis Maiorino.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“Dean is down to a few teams, and I know he has the right intentions for Jonathan,” Brisson said Friday.
Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall and goalie coach Bill Ranford, both former successful NHL goalies, believe Bernier has the ability to be a No. 1 goalie, so Los Angeles is looking for significant value.

The Wild traded its 2013 first-round pick to Buffalo in April’s Jason Pominville deal. But the Wild has prospects to trade, with the Kings looking for a left winger. The Kings also would want a backup goalie in return and have asked for Darcy Kuemper, a source confirmed. The Wild traded third-string goalie Matt Hackett to the Sabres in the Pominville deal.

Today’s report, in which the names Jason Zucker, Darcy Kuemper and Alec Martinez are brandied about, comes to you via The Fourth Period. Philadelphia, Toronto and the Islanders are also considered to be strongly interested in Bernier.

Information on the players mentioned:

Zucker, a 21-year-old left wing who won a gold medal with the United States at the 2010 World Junior Championships, scored an overtime goal in Game 3 of Minnesota’s first round series against Chicago to punctuate the Wild’s only playoff win. Following a 24-goal, 50-point season with Houston of the AHL, the former Denver Pioneer who was selected in the second round in 2010 is ready to be considered for a skill role at the NHL level and is well-regarded as a member of Minnesota’s amassment of talented young players. He’ll make $833,333 this year and will become a restricted free agent next summer. Puck Daddy wrote about Zucker during the Wild-Blackhawks series.

The 6-foot-4 Kuemper was the 2011 CHL Goaltender of the Year who played for the Red Deer Rebels, a WHL team owned by Brent Sutter. The 23-year-old appeared in eight games with the Ontario Reign in 2011-12 and spent 56:53 in the crease during Los Angeles 3-0 win over Minnesota at Staples Center on April 4, stopping 11 of 12 shots after spelling Backstrom early in the game. He’ll make $900,000 before becoming a restricted free agent next summer.

This hypothetical trade would also inexpensively find a back-up for Jonathan Quick, as there are still questions as to whether Martin Jones is ready for that role.

Though the interest in Bernier is more acute than it had been when the week started, it is still difficult to ascertain whether one team has a leg up on the others in the bid for the 24-year-old’s services.

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