Jonathan Bernier: I was expecting Leafs to go get another goalie

Before the draft, Jonathan Bernier suddenly became the No. 2 goalie in Toronto Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports

When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded for goalie Frederik Andersen last week, the other masked man in Toronto wasn’t exactly shocked.

But now he's plenty motivated.

"You know what, I'll be honest, I wasn't surprised on the trade to get another goalie," Jonathan Bernier said over the phone Monday. "I was expecting it obviously with the season I had last year. I'm sure I put some doubts in a lot of people's minds. That's the business, right? You got to win and you got to prove that you're consistent and you're a good goalie to stay in this league. So I wasn't surprised. Maybe a little surprised on the long-term contract [Andersen signed a five-year deal], but that's the way it works."

So be it, Bernier said, he's ready to challenge for that Leafs net next season.

"To me, I'm more than ready. My body feels healthy, I've been trying really hard to come to camp and be ready," said Bernier. "And I will be ready. It's not something where because of the trade I'm bitter or anything like that. It actually pushed me harder to come ready. I want to play as many games as possible. Obviously I can't control how many I will, but if I play well and I win, at least I'm doing my job."

Just what the Leafs have in store for Bernier isn't quite clear yet. The goalie hasn't talked to anyone with the organization since the Andersen trade.

"No, I haven't talked with the Leafs since my exit meeting," he said, which is no problem.

In the meantime, he's not ignoring the possibility that he now gets traded. He’s ready for anything.

"Yeah, I can't control what their plan is, whether I'm in their plan or not," said Bernier. "At this point now I'm just focusing on myself and making sure I'm ready for training camp. Right now I'm under contract with the Leafs and that's where my head is. If things change, well, that’s out of my reach."

Bernier, who turns 28 on Aug. 7, has one more season left on his deal at $4.15 million before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July 2017. He put up a very healthy .923 save percentage in his first season with the Leafs in 2013-14 after being traded by the Los Angeles Kings but his numbers have since regressed on a very bad team. He had a .908 save percentage this past season on the 30th-place Leafs.

He's a polarizing guy among Leaf fans because there are those who still see a No. 1 in the making and others who feel he's had his chance and won't ever figure it out. I can tell you there are certainly some rival team coaches and scouts who still see the potential in Bernier, especially on a better team.

As for himself, he still believes in himself.

"Yes. I had a tough start last season and I can admit that," said the native of Laval, Que. "The best thing is to move on. I look at last season, for me to go through what I did, and then I came out after Christmas after I started to find my game, that was a big plus. We all know it's not an easy thing to do in a big market, but I found a way to find my game again, I kept working at it, kept pushing hard in practices and games; doing the right things. If things ever happen like that again, I'll know how to handle it."

Probably the best route for Toronto to take is start the season with Bernier on the roster and see how the season plays out -- a goalie need might arise elsewhere before the trade deadline. The Florida Panthers have expressed interest. Or, Bernier might have a heck of a season and challenge Andersen. Stranger things have happened.