Leafs, Bernier Agree to Two-Year, $8.3M Deal
After undergoing an arbitration hearing on Friday, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jonathan Bernier agreed on a two-year deal Sunday afternoon before the arbitrator’s decision was handed down.
The deal gives Bernier a salary cap hit of $4.15 million and constitutes a raise for Bernier from his $2.9 million cap hit last season. It places Bernier 24th in the league in goaltender salary, between Steve Mason and Craig Anderson. [All contract numbers from generalfanager.com.]
This is roughly what Bernier was going to get awarded in arbitration. Key comparable used was Steve Mason, who makes $4.1-million.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) August 2, 2015
Had they waited for the arbitrator’s ruling, the contract would have been for only a year, meaning that the Maple Leafs would have to either negotiate with Bernier as an unrestricted free agent next season or decide to part ways with him.
The Maple Leafs will have Bernier and James Reimer under contract for $6.45 million next season, a very reasonable price for two goalies who are largely considered to be at least league average netminders and generally competitive with one another.
Undoubtedly the team is hopeful that they have purchased one of Bernier’s unrestricted free agent years at a discount. Should Bernier have a good season in 2015-16, his price could be expected to go up as a UFA. Toronto will already need to make decisions about James Reimer next offseason. The second year of this Bernier deal could help relieve some of the pressure on that process.
Bernier and Reimer have both begun to work with Toronto’s new goaltending coach Steve Briere on developing what Briere calls a “plan for the season.” With all the changes in Toronto this offseason, the team is betting that they have achieved some stability in net at a reasonabe cost.