Toronto Maple Leafs: Decision Day on Jonathan Bernier


Toronto Maple Leafs: Decision Day on Jonathan Bernier

Today is Decision Day on Jonathan Bernier, but it actually doesn’t matter whether he’s offered a new contract by the Toronto Maple Leafs or signs a competing offer sheet as a restricted free agent with someone else – his fate is essentially sealed.

Apr 1, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) looks to make a save on Buffalo Sabres left wing Marcus Foligno (82) during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

By electing arbitration, the Leafs have already committed themselves to re-signing Bernier at whatever figure emerges from the arbitration process. They’ve also narrowed the window in which other teams can tender an offer sheet to Bernier – in fact, today is the deadline.

Unless someone tenders Bernier a competing offer before midnight tonight – an offer the Leafs can always match – Bernier will remain a member of the Leafs for the immediate future. Of course, the Leafs could always re-sign Bernier, then trade him, but this just speaks to how much control they enjoy over the 26-year-old goaltender’s future.

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Detroit Red Wings: Former netminder Jonathan Bernier retires
Detroit Red Wings: Former netminder Jonathan Bernier retires /

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  • If the Leafs want to keep Bernier, they just have to wait and see things out. Everything has already been set in motion to keep him a member of the Leafs. This represents an unusual and high degree of control over a restricted free agent – which says a lot – but it’s not clear what the Leafs ultimately plan for Bernier.

    Last season represented a regression for Bernier in terms of his stats, and the Leafs have James Reimer, Antoine Bibeau and Christopher Gibson waiting in the wings behind him. It’s not obvious what the Leafs gain by bringing Bernier to arbitration – they might think he’s seeking too much money or they might be trying to force the hands of other clubs – but it could risk poisoning the relationship between the two sides. For now, Bernier has expressed no frustration about the team or the impending arbitration process.

    Apr 4, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (47) tries to get to a rebound in front of Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) during the second period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    At a minimum, the Leafs want to ensure that Bernier re-signs with them (or signs somewhere else) for something reflecting his previous deal with the team – $3.4 million last season – so that they can reap the maximum return in draft picks if he does end up playing elsewhere. This would net them a second-round pick in next year’s draft if he does in fact sign an offer sheet or, if he remains with Toronto, it would set a value comparable to this on the trade market.

    If Bernier signs for more than $3.63 million, the level of compensation (or trade-comparable value) jumps to a first- and third-round pick in next year’s draft, but this seems unlikely given how Bernier has performed over the past two seasons in Toronto.

    What are your thoughts? Will we finally see some movement on Bernier today or are the Leafs content playing the slow game with him? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

    [Writer’s note: I’ve tried to best present the terms of the current CBA between the NHL and NHLPA on this topic, but I could always be guilty of misunderstanding things. Thus, I encourage you to take a lot at the CBA yourself – it’s quite the beefy document!]

    Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson