Colorado Avalanche: Signing Jonathan Bernier Was Good Move

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Jonathan Bernier
ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 20: Jonathan Bernier /

The Colorado Avalanche made  a savvy move in signing goalie Jonathan Bernier to a one-year contract. It gives them a lot of options.

The Colorado Avalanche have officially put the 2017 NHL Draft behind them. Now we  are fully engulfed in the “dead” period in the NHL  — the full offseason. The Colorado Avalanche and GM Joe Sakic made a move that is not getting a lot of press.

Veteran goaltender Jonathan Bernier signed a one-year deal with the Avs worth a reported $2.75 million. After losing budding youngster Calvin Pickard to the Las Vegas Golden Knights via the expansion draft, Colorado was in need of a backup goalie.

This move may appear as deja vu to Bernier but should benefit both sides when it is all said and done. Bernier was sent to the Maple Leafs in 2013 to become their starter between the pipes in the midst of a rebuild. The Leafs moved on from him last season, and now he finds himself in Denver, in what appears to be a rebuild.

What may go unnoticed is that Bernier put up relatively decent numbers during his time in Toronto. In his first season with the Maple Leafs (before the rebuild truly began), Bernier put up a .923 SV%, which was good enough for 10th in the NHL. He finished with a 26-19-7 record that season. The Leafs finished around .500, missed the playoffs, and entered rebuild mode.

When your blue line is depleted, the first person to suffer is your goalie. Subsequently, Bernier’s numbers fell a bit over the next two seasons, but he was able to keep his goals against average below three, and his save percentage above .900.

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In terms of replacing Pickard, Bernier has better numbers throughout his career (although one could argue that Pickard has a higher ceiling). Bernier posted a 2.50 GAA with a .915 SV% during the 2016-2017 season, while Pickard posted 2.98 GAA with a .904 SV%. Over the course of his career, Bernier boasts a 2.65 GAA with a .915 SV%, and Pickard goes to Vegas with a 2.77 GAA and a .914 SV%.

Now many of you reading this may be saying, “How does this make Bernier a better option between the pipes than Varlamov?” The answer is that it doesn’t necessarily, but it could aid in building the foundation moving forward.

Bernier has gone through a rebuild already, and so you know that you get a veteran guy that can perform when facing a lot of shots. He is also still at a peak age for a goaltender, which gives the Colorado Avalanche a few options.

Option A: Bernier outplays Varlamov and earns the job and the starter in Colorado. Craig Anderson, once an Avalanche goalie, became better the older he got, and now has enjoyed a very nice career in Ottawa. The same could happen in Bernier’s career. At the very least, he could push Varlamov, who’s one year older, to perform .

Option B: Bernier puts together a solid first half of the season before the trade deadline. Joe Sakic moves him at the deadline, for a young defenceman or draft picks. This is the recipe to a successful rebuild, “Trust The Process.”

Option C: Bernier has a mediocre season and his contract expires at the end of the year. The Avs can either re-sign him for less money or move on and no one is the wiser.

Next: Avs in No-Win Situation with Varlamov

If the Colorado Avalanche as an organization truly intend to move forward with young talent and rebuilding the blue line, then signing a capable goalie in Jonathan Bernier to a one-year deal was a good move.