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Reimer: Bernier trade to Maple Leafs 'a challenge'

by Connor Mellas /

The Toronto Maple Leafs traded for Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier on Sunday, adding another young goaltender to a team that might not have needed one.

Incumbent James Reimer was a bit shocked when he learned of the trade, which saw forward Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens and a second-round draft pick in 2014 or 2015 go to the Kings.

"I was a little surprised when I heard about the deal," Reimer, 25, told the Toronto Sun on Sunday. "There had been talk about bringing in a veteran. But to bring in someone of a similar age (Bernier is 24), well, obviously they have their reasons."

Jonathan Bernier
Jonathan Bernier
Goalie - TOR
RECORD: 29-20
GAA: 2.36 | SVP: 0.912
Reimer went 19-8-5 this season with a 2.64 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and four shutouts in 33 regular-season games. He helped the Maple Leafs finish fifth in the Eastern Conference and return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004, and started all seven postseason games against the Boston Bruins, recording a 2.88 GAA and .923 save percentage.

"Overall, I felt I played well this past season," Reimer said. "I feel like I've established myself as a No. 1 goalie in this League."

With the kind of success Toronto had , the perception is that adding Bernier shows little faith in the goaltending arrangement that helped the team to its best finish in nearly a decade.

"It makes you feel a bit doubted as a goalie," Reimer said. "Is it by the coaches? Is it by the GM? Is it by the media? You could drive yourself crazy asking yourself things like that. You just have to focus on what you can control and believe in yourself."

Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis said the trade was made to strengthen the team.

"We think goaltending may be the most important position in the game today," Nonis said on a conference call Sunday after the trade. "This is clearly not a knock on James. … I don't think you can be deep enough at that position. We got younger and deeper today and we feel our team is stronger because of it."

Bernier has played 62 NHL games in parts of five seasons, including 14 as Jonathan Quick's backup this season. He had a 1.88 GAA and .922 save percentage in 2012-13, and the potential remains high for a player selected with the 11th pick of the 2006 NHL Draft.

Despite the new threat to his job security, Reimer said he's taking the move in stride. Moreover, he said he'll use it for motivation.

"It definitely will be a challenge," Reimer said. "It makes you a better person and a better goalie."

"Nothing is being guaranteed to anybody," Nonis said. "It's a situation we feel we are deeper, both have great potential and they're going to get an opportunity to develop and hopefully realize that potential."

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