With all the talk in Leafs Nation surrounding the slew of recent signings and re-signings for the Toronto Maple Leafs (David Booth, James Reimer, Daniel Winnik, and Jake Gardiner), one player and his future re-signing moves closer and closer to the forefront – Jonathan Bernier. With $2.9 million remaining on his contract for next season, Dave Nonis (or should I say Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas?) have a tall task in assessing what their number one stopper is worth.
The Leafs brain trust faces difficult questions when assessing Bernier this season. How does he compare with the other top-end starting goalies, and how much should the Leafs spend to keep Bernier’s services? Those will be burning questions all season long.
The Case for Bernier to be Paid as a Top-tier Goalie
Last season, Jonathan Bernier played at a spectacular level. So spectacular, that by January he had wrestled away the starting duties from goalie James Reimer – effectively ending the timeshare. For the season, the stats that Jonathan Bernier controlled (saves, save percentage, goals saved above average) ranked among the best goalies in the NHL. Jonathan Bernier ranked 7th in shots against (1,787), yet managed the 7th best SV% (.923) as per NHL.com.
His goals saved above average (GSAA) of 15.07 also ranked 7th in the NHL, behind a who’s who list of the best goalies in the NHL; only Semyon Varlamov, Tuukka Rask, Carey Price, Ben Bishop, Cam Talbot (!) and Sergei Bobrovsky ranked higher. At 7th in GSAA, Bernier produced at a higher level than stars like Henrik Lundqvist, Roberto Luongo, Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford, and many others (see here for more).
What is Bernier Worth?
At the risk of cherry-picking the data a little, it seems fair enough to rate Jonathan Bernier as a top-10 NHL goalie. Heck, he’s probably justified the specific title of seventh best overall.
So what should we expect Leafs management to offer Bernier?
Currently, Bernier’s $3.4 million salary ($2.9 million cap hit) is in line with a bunch of backups. 31 year-old Viktor Fasth earns $3.4 million per year, Karri Ramo earns $2.9 million and Craig Anderson earns $3.5 million. It would be tough to argue that any of these goalies are close to Bernier in skill or potential.
But what do the top 10 NHL goalies earn?
After Henrik Lundqvist‘s $11 million per year deal, the rest of the top 10 goalie salaries fall in between Tuukka Rask‘s $7.5 million a year (2nd highest salary) and $6.25 million a year contracts for the 9th-11th ranks (Kari Lehtonen, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Semyon Varlamov – see capgeek.com for more).
With Bernier’ numbers in mind, and the rising salary cap for next season, Bernier figures to garner something in the neighbourhood of $7 million a year on a new deal.
Now we wait and see if
Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas are Dave Nonis is ready to pay up for a top 10 goaltender.
What do you think? Is that a reasonable amount to pay Bernier? Let us know in the comments section below.