Jonathan Bernier for Team Canada?

Martin Rose

What? It could happen.

Earlier this morning, during a radio bit about the Nazem Kadri saga, Darren Dreger mentioned the "outside chance" of Jonathan Bernier making the Canadian entry to the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.

Some are so convinced that Bernier is going to be rock-solid that he might play his way into Olympic contention [for Canada].

Bernier, who has never been a starting goaltender in the NHL and was not invited to Hockey Canada's Olympic camp last week in Calgary, would seem to be an unlikely choice as one of Canada's three goaltenders. Or would it? Jonathan Willis opined back in May that James Reimer should get serious consideration for a roster spot on Team Canada if judging by his career even-strength save percentage. And what do we know about James Reimer? That he's not as good as Jonathan Bernier. Just see the expert opinions below:

The scouts have long salivated at Bernier’s abilities. He showed what he could do in his limited appearances with the Los Angeles Kings...

- Kevin McGran, Toronto Star

It's true. Bernier impressed scouts so much that he was drafted 11th overall in the 2006 draft. The fact that it has taken him 7 years and a trade to get a shot at being a number one goalie is just a bunch of fluff to feed the Negative Nancy types. Where was James Reimer drafted? In the 4th round. 'Nuff said.

I would say Bernier’s ceiling is higher. I know the stats don’t necessarily reflect this due to Bernier’s smaller sample size and Reimer’s better-than-expected season, but in terms of which goalie has the higher talent ceiling, I believe that is Bernier...Toronto wouldn’t have invested in a deal like this if they didn’t think Bernier could be as good as Reimer, or better.

- Justin Goldman, McKeen's Hockey (interview with MLHS)

Stats schmats. Goldman makes a great point: why trade for Bernier unless he's better than Reimer? Check and mate.

Based on what the Leafs gave up and now the money they're giving Bernier, it seems that Toronto feels it has its No. 1 in Bernier.

- Chris Peters, CBS Sports

Bernier signed a two year, $5.8m deal with the Leafs back in July. James Reimer is only getting paid $1.8m. One of these two is being paid more than the other one. Can you figure out which one? That's right - Bernier. Math never lies. The Leafs front office obviously think Bernier is the better goalie.

Bernier could not hide his feelings about believing he could be a No. 1. And Reimer’s rebound control, puck-handling and propensity to give up high glove-side goals nagged at Leafs brass.

- Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun

We all watched Game 7. The GWG was scored off a rebound. To Reimer's glove side. Proof enough for you? Reimer fell apart like @skinnyppphish at fat camp. Fatty.

It’s very difficult to get market value for a guy who is going to be a No. 1.

- Dean Lombardi, Kings GM (via Sportsnet)

I think he means for Team Canada.

You can trace the roots of the trade all the way back to the 2011 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Slovakia, where Leafs GM Dave Nonis was in charge of the Canadian team and added Bernier to his roster midway through the tournament. In a strange piece of symmetry, Bernier promptly bumped James Reimer out of the No. 1 job — a situation that will likely be repeated this fall in Toronto — and was given the final three starts. At the time, there was a feeling among those involved with Hockey Canada that Bernier outperformed Reimer and was the main reason the team nearly pulled off an upset win over Russia in the quarter-finals. Clearly, Nonis saw something he liked in the young goalie during that event.

- Chris Johnston, Sportsnet

Nothing to see here. Just Bernier beating out Reimer for the starting spot for Team Canada two years ago. Reimer may have won more games than Bernier did, but Bernier played better competition and it was obvious to everyone that his play was better despite the stats. Something something about history repeats itself?

"He’s the real deal," Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford told ESPN.com Sunday. "He’s really highly regarded by us. He’s not only a great goalie but he’s a great person. They’re going to love him there." I can tell you that for GM Dean Lombardi and the rest of the Kings' front office, this was a tough pill to swallow. They feel they’re trading away a future star, franchise goalie. But they had to.

...Like the Kings, I’m extremely high on Bernier. I think he’s got star No. 1 written all over him.

- Pierre LeBrun, ESPN

True dat.

It's pretty obvious that Bernier is a better goalie than James Reimer, minus all of that "evidence" stuff. And if James Reimer is a candidate to play for Team Canada at Sochi, shouldn't Jonathan Bernier be an even better candidate? Heck, think of who he's going up against. Roberto Luongo was a backup last season. Carey Price is a dirty Hab. What has Corey Crawford ever done? Look, I'm not saying that Bernier will definitely be Team Canada's number one goalie. All I'm saying is that he's got huge potential and was drafted super high, which also means he's got huge potential, and he was being held back in LA by the play Jonathan Quick because LA is biased against Canadian goalies and James Reimer better pack his bags because hit the road dude.

It's Bernier time.

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