Dealing Bernier to Maple Leafs was best option

The much anticipated trade of Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings finally became reality on Sunday when Bernier was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Matt Frattin, goalie Ben Scrivens, a second-round draft pick and a reported $500,000 in cash.

“It was a very difficult deal to make,” said Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who had been in discussions with the Maple Leafs for the past eight months. “We finally pulled the trigger when we felt this was the best deal we were going to get. The reality is that it is very difficult to get market value for a number one goalie. Toronto was certainly aggressive.”

Bernier is arguably the best player involved in the deal, but remember, he has just 58 NHL games under his belt spread out over four NHL seasons. While Bernier has the potential to be a No. 1 goalie, that potential was never going to be reached in Los Angeles where Jonathan Quick is locked in for the next nine years.

In an ideal situation the Kings would have kept both Quick and Bernier, but they are working under the limitations of a salary cap that doesn’t allow teams to afford two No. 1 netminders.

“We knew he (Bernier) deserved the chance at this point to be a number one goalie, said Lombardi.  “Unfortunately in today’s game you are not allowed to have a goal-tending tandem like Edmonton did with Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog. It’s like the in the NFL not being able to have two number one quarterbacks.

“I don’t relish these deals. It’s more of an asset deal and not a hockey deal. It’s like I’m running an auction here. Part of the mix here is not only moving the goalie and getting what you can, but getting the contracts coming back your way that fit into the cap.”

What the Kings get back in return is a player in Frattin who they have coveted for a few years.

“This is a kid that we know well,” said Lombardi.  “I have been impressed with him since his days at North Dakota. This is a guy that I tried to trade for two years ago when he was coming out of college.”

Frattin plays with a lot of grit and should give the Kings some much needed speed.

Though he never really seemed to find his way under Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, on a Kings team deep that is deep up front, he has the potential to score 15-20 goals a year.

In Scrivens, the Kings get a capable backup who can easily play 20 games a year. It will also allow Martin Jones, the Kings top goalie in Manchester, another season to work on his game without having to rush his progress.

“It’s fair to say we would like to see Martin take another step in his development,” said Lombardi. “He’s come along like a lot of young goalies.  He’s on the same path and I’m not saying he’s going to be as good a goalie, but his development cycle is similar to the other guys (Quick and Bernier). We’d like to see him continue to improve his game and like so many young players nail down the consistency part of it. You know how important it is to me to give kids proper time to develop.”

It will also take time to decide which team was the victor in this swap. Each team is dealing with some certainty of unknowns. Kings fans should not be frustrated if Bernier becomes the top flight goaltender that many feel he is destined to be.

This deal comes down to the success of the two players the Kings received, the future draft pick and the success of Martin Jones. If  Frattin can be the 20 goal scorer that he is projected to be and either Scrivens or Jones become the long term answer as the backup goalie (and there is still a second-round draft pick), then this deal was a success for Lombardi regardless of what Bernier can do for the Maple Leafs.