Detroit Red Wings: Bernier Avoids Trade; Is Extension Next?

Octopus Thrower

From his station, Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier watched Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck recover a careless power-play turnover by defenseman Dennis Cholowski and skate hard directly toward him.

Bernier wasn’t supposed to be in that situation.

Most NHL insiders assumed him to be part of GM Steve Yzerman’s master rebuild strategy – the Yzerplan – and en route to the airport Monday night after being traded for additional assets.

But there Bernier was, at PNC Arena, in Raleigh, N.C, still dressed in a Red Wings sweater, focused on going 1-on-1 with an offensive force who entered the match with seven points in his past five outings.

Bernier, whose luggage was probably packed before the morning skate, stood firm. Trocheck attempted to score between the leg pads, but Bernier turned the shot aside, maintaining a scoreless tie with nearly five minutes remaining in the second period.

Then there was the rebound. It was juicy and it slid close to a harrassed Warren Foegele, who failed to gain control and convert.

Bernier, in a game few thought he would start, ended up stopping 37 shots in the 3-1 victory over the Central Division-leading Hurricanes. As long as he stays healthy, he should get the bulk of playing time the remainder of the season, including Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Red Wings Big Difference

Bernier has proven to be a worthy Ilitch investment since he signed as a free agent in 2018. The Red Wings organization should invest further.

Remember last season?

Who can forget 2019-20, right? Of the Red Wings’ 17 victories, Bernier had 15 and his 2.95 goals-against average (GAA) and .907 save percentage were certainly respectable for the league’s worse team.

This season, Bernier is 9-7-0 with a 2.92 GAA and .914 save percentage for the last-place squad.

Part of (Short-Term) Future

Now 32 years old and with the Red Wings in need of a No. 1 goalie next season, Bernier’s post-trade deadline presence elevates his status as a prime candidate to return next with a hefty contract extension.

Yzerman likely will move on from 35-year-old backup Thomas Greiss, but bringing back Bernier for the next 2-3 years should be part of the master plan.

It makes sense why Yzerman would not come down from the king’s ransom he was asking other clubs to pay for Bernier in prospects or draft picks during Monday’s trade deadline.

An unrestricted free agent after this season, Bernier needs a place to play. Detroit needs a backstop.

There’s a reason he was still with the Red Wings on Monday night.

Now, about that clumsy, lazy, power-play turnover by Cholowski …

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