Leafs acquire Jonathan Bernier

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier looks on after allowing a goal during the overtime...

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier looks on after allowing a goal during the overtime shootout against the New York Rangers in their NHL hockey game in New York February 17, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:05 PM ET

TORONTO - The most highly-contested battle for the Maple Leafs in training camp will take place in the Toronto goal crease.

Jonathan Bernier versus James Reimer. Let the competition begin.

In Reimer’s case, he says bring it on.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” Reimer told the Toronto Sun in a phone interview early Sunday afternoon. “It makes you a better person and better goalie.”

Ever since Dave Nonis replaced the bombastic Brian Burke as general manager in January, he has had various flirtations with other goaltenders in order to add depth to the position. He kicked tires on both Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff, but both attempts failed to come to fruition.

On Sunday, Nonis finally bolstered his team’s fortunes between the pipes by acquiring Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings for forward Matt Frattin, backup goaltender Ben Scrivens and Toronto’s second round pick in either the 2014 or 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Reimer learned of the deal from a text sent to him by his buddy Scrivens.

Bernier, 24, is a restricted free agent who earned more than $1.2 million his past season. You have to figure Nonis felt he could ink Bernier to a reasonable deal when he first pulled the trigger on the trade.

Serving as the backup to 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick, Bernier’s record in 2013 was 9-3-1 with a goals-against average of 1.88 and a save percentage of .922.

Bernier was the 11th overall pick in the 2006 entry draft. He won a gold medal as part of Canada’s world junior team two years later.

Bernier was aware of the trade chatter that had been making the rounds recently.

“It’s actually exciting,” Bernier told espn.com this past week. “But I really can’t control anything. It’s up to (Kings GM) Dean (Lombardi). If there’s the right trade for him, I’m sure he’ll make the right call.”

Lombardi did just that.

When you compare the head-to-head numbers, Reimer has played more NHL games (104-62); has better save percentage (.915-.912): and more shutouts (10-6) than Bernier.

Whichever goalie you fancy, this much is certain: The Toronto Maple Leafs are stronger today at the NHL’s most vital position than they were at the conclusion of the 2013 season.


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