by PuckStopsHere on 03/13/10 at 03:08 PM ET
The probable AHL MVP played his first game of the NHL season last night. Jonathan Bernier of the Manchester Monarchs played with the Los Angeles Kings. He was the winning goaltending in Los Angeles’s 2-1 victory over Dallas. Bernier made 29 saves on thirty shots.
Bernier is the AHL leader in saves percentage with .937. This is a significant lead over the rest of the league (as Mike McKenna of the Lowell Devils is second at .929). Bernier has been the second most heavily played goaltender in the AHL. He has 50 games played (behind Alex Stalock of the Worcester Sharks who has 52).
When I write about the AHL, people often ask if there are any players starring there that might become NHL stars. In many cases, the AHL’s top players are well into their 20’s or even early 30’s and are as good as hey will ever become. They probably could handle an NHL role well, if given one, but they are not likely to become stars. They no longer have the upside. Jonathan Bernier is different. Bernier is a 21 year old former first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings. He starred for Canada in the World Junior Championships, but has been brought along slowly since then. Bernier is a likely future NHL star.
Bernier was called up temporarily because Los Angeles Kings number one goalie Jonathan Quick was away for the birth of his child. In all likelihood, Bernier will be returned to the minors when quick returns. Most likely, current Kings backup goalie Erik Ersberg will lose his NHL job or be moved to give Bernier an NHL spot. Bernier is too big a talent to be kept in the AHL next season. He has dominated it this year and played a good NHL game last night. He will be back in the NHL and should play very well.
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