Welcome to the Los Angeles Kings Prospect Update, a weekly feature highlighting a prospect in the Los Angeles Kings system.
The Kings currently own the league rights of 45 players outside of the NHL, including Professional players in Europe, Junior players and players in college. Click here to see the 2008-09 LA Kings Prospect Roster.
This week’s highlighted prospect is 20-year old goaltending prospect Jonathan Bernier, currently minding net for the Kings AHL Affiliate Manchester Monarchs. On March 8, Bernier tallied his sixth straight win with Manchester, bringing his March play to a stellar five wins, 1.20 GAA and .952 save percentage and one shutout. Bernier is now 19-17-3 in 41 games this season, with a 2.44 GAA, a save percentage of .911 and three shutouts. When fellow Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Quick was called up to the Kings in Dec. 2008, Bernier became the solid No. 1 netminder in Manchester but struggled through January. Bernier posted six straight losses before being called up to Los Angeles for four days to back up Quick when Erik Ersberg was out with a knee injury. But since returning to Manchester on Jan. 22, Bernier has gone 9-5-0, winning eight of his last 10 games.
“In the beginning of the season he was focused too much on what was going on here in LA and not so much what he had to do in Manchester,” said Kings Goaltending Coach Bill Ranford. “When I talked with him last week that is what we tried to focus on, doing what he has to do to be successful in Manchester, and for him it was eliminating bad goals.”
Drafted in the first round (11th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Bernier became only the second goaltender selected by the Kings in the first round, joining Jamie Storr who was drafted seventh overall in 1994. The 6’0”, 185 pound native of Laval, Quebec started in net for the Kings in Sept. 2007 when they played the Anaheim Ducks in London to begin the 2007-08 season where he recorded his first NHL win. After posting a 1-3-0 record with Los Angeles, Bernier played all but three games for the rest of the season with the Lewiston Maneiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockley League (QMJHL). In 34 games with Lewiston, Bernier posted an 18-15 record, a 2.73 GAA and a save percentage of .908.
“He was playing well all season; he was just letting in that bad goal at the wrong time every couple of games. That was the one area that we felt had to be cleaned up. His biggest strength as a goaltender now is how calm he is in the net; he is not really using any excess energy.
“He keeps it simple and when he is on top of his game he makes it look easy.”
Notable performances were given this week by several Los Angeles Kings prospects including Bud Holloway, covered here last week, who had one goal and two assists in three games with the Kings ECHL affiliate Ontario Reign. Marc-Andre Cliche of the Manchester Monarchs, 16 games into an abbreviated season due to injury during training camp, had two goals and one assist this week to bring his point total to six (4-2=6).
Click here for the statistics on all of the Los Angeles Kings 2008-09 Prospects. For more information on Kings prospects and for past updates, please check out the Prospect News section here.