Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Flames have goaltending problems.
To sum it up quickly, Karri Ramo is hurt, and Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio are performing terribly. All are pending free agents who have all produced the worst seasons of their careers. Goaltending may not be the biggest problem on this team (Lines 3/4, defence pairings 2/3, and the coach, I feel, are to blame for most of this team's woes), but it's the most visible, and thus will likely be the first to be overhauled.
And, based on rumours, that's the team's intention. According to Elliotte Friedman, the Flames asked the Penguins about AHL goaltender Matt Murray. The former OHL standout has been a brick wall for the Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton Penguins, compiling a 44-20-1 record and a .932SV% over two seasons (and one game). He also had a brief four game stint in the NHL, going 2-1-0 with a .920SV%. The kid is good.
It's easy to understand why the Flames would want Murray. He's a very promising goaltender that could probably make the jump next year while he's still cheap. With Ortio's future extremely doubtful, and Jon Gillies maybe requiring another year post-injury, Murray would be an excellent choice for the job next year.
But the caveat is that he's not available, which is also easy to understand. Marc-Andre Fleury isn't getting any younger, and his (usually unfair) critics aren't going away anytime soon. Their current back-up is Jeff Zatkoff, a career AHLer who has played in 48 NHL games at age 28. Murray is where the Penguins will pin their hopes, and he's not for sale.
(You can hope that "not available" is GM slang for "make me an offer I can't refuse," but that would be silly and the Flames shouldn't pursue Murray if he's not readily available.)
But why should the fun end there?
Flames have been scouting lot of Leafs recent games. My guess is Reimer and Bernier part of what they'd be interested in.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 21, 2016
Unless Brian Burke has a sudden affinity for the team that ran him out of town, these rumours appear to have some weight to them (let's be honest; the Leafs have no one left worth trading for, and the exceptions are the ones Kyle Dubas is too smart to move). The Flames need goalies, while the Leafs have goalies. That's called an opportunity.
James Reimer is a UFA at the end of the season, and considering the Flames' position in the standings, they don't need him immediately as a rental. They could certainly take a shot at him in free agency, assuming he doesn't want to be on the Leafs anymore.
Bernier is option #2, and that's a route we've been down before. Many of the same problems still persist. His play has been poor (you could blame the team in front of him, but Reimer is 24 points better than him in SV%), he's still expensive, and with 201 NHL games played, we know what type of player he is.
But if the Flames could move a painful contract to get him, should they pull the trigger? If the trade involves one of Mason Raymond, Deryk Engelland, or Ladislav Smid (or any other player making less than what Bernier does) and perhaps a pick, is it a good trade? If Bernier happens to bounce back to the form he had in his Kings/early Leafs days, the Flames become immediate winners.
The downside of course is that not happening. If Bernier flops, the bad contract sent back would be null (unless they manage to get two or three off their books, but Toronto will neither have the space nor the desire to do that). It would be one more year of goaltending instability and cap crunches. The risk outweighs the reward.
The goalie is a rare commodity that doesn't come cheap. The Flames aren't likely going to find a long-term solution to their goaltending problems at trade deadline, but at this point, I guess anything might be an upgrade.