The Chicago Blackhawks have “expressed interest” in signing free agent goaltender Jonathan Bernier, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic. The Blackhawks are looking to make Bernier their No. 2 netminder behind Corey Crawford.
Bernier, 29, was 19-13-3 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in 37 games for the Colorado Avalanche last season. The former first-round pick joined Colorado as an unrestricted free agent from Anaheim on a one-year deal worth $2.75 million. He suffered multiple injuries throughout the season, including missing 10 games due to a head injury in February.
Bernier was 1-3 with a 3.87 GAA and .883 save percentage in Colorado’s first-round playoff series against Nashville. The Avs did not extend a qualifying offer to Bernier because they acquired goalie Philipp Grubauer from Washington at the NHL draft, then signed him to a three-year contract.
Chicago has also reportedly shown interest in Carter Hutton as their new No. 2 goalie. Both Bernier and the 32-year-old Hutton are expected to receive two-year contracts carrying a $3.1 million salary cap hit, according to Matt Cane of HockeyGraphs.
Powers also notes that adding Bernier or Hutton, or any other goalie, would force Chicago to trade at least one netminder in their system. The Hawks currently have Crawford, Anton Forsberg, J-F Berube, Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen under contracts for the 2018-19 season.
Prospect Ivan Nalimov’s agent, Shumi Babaev, said earlier this month his client will be requesting a trade. Since being drafted in the sixth round in 2014, the 23-year-old has remained in Russia. He posted a .938 save percentage in 23 games last season with Ufa Salavat Yulaev and Vladivostok Admiral.
The NHL free agency period officially begins July 1.