The 11th overall pick in the 2006 Draft (Los Angeles Kings), Jonathan Bernier seems to be the kind of guy that is always involved in trade rumors. I swear there must have been at least 3 times the Devils were rumored to be interested in him. Meanwhile, he played for the Kings, winning a Stanley Cup in 2012 as backup to another Jonathan (Quick), but we won’t get into that here.
After bouncing around a few times, Bernier wound up on the Detroit Red Wings, before becoming a free agent at the end of the 2020–21 season.
Meanwhile, in Carolina, a guy named Alexander Nedeljkovic played in 23 games as a rookie goaltender, winning 15 of those games and posting a 1.90 GAA and .932 save percentage.
For whatever reason, and I can only assume it was Expansion Draft related, Carolina’s response to that amazing rookie season was to ship him out of town as fast as possible. For a free agent with an expired contract and a third round pick. If Alex turns out to be as good or better than his rookie year, this will go down as an all time bonehead trade.
To make it even worse, Carolina then failed to come to terms with Bernier, and he was signed as a free agent by New Jersey to serve as a backup (or maybe a co-starter?) for Mackenzie Blackwood.
Scouring eBay for pucks on a daily basis as I do, it wasn’t long after the trade that a Detroit fan put this puck up for sale at what I considered a bargain price. The Puck Project rule is, no goalie gets added to the collection unless and until he suits up and plays in a regular season game for the Devils. Had I gone ahead and obtained a Corey Crawford puck last year, it would not be part of the collection because he retired before he played a game for the Devils.
But, working on an assumption that lightning wasn’t going to strike twice, I picked this one up and held onto it just in case it was needed. With Bernier having made his Devils debut, this old new arrival is now officially part of the collection. Happy to have Jonathan on Beatles, both on the team and in the collection, as the 40th goalie to ever play for the New Jersey Devils.