Mike Gillis traded away the third-round pick in 2009 they got from L.A. (via the Cloutier trade), and a second round pick of 2010 for the rights to RFA right-winger Steve Bernier of the Buffalo Sabres. Bernier started his career in San Jose, drafted 16th overall in the 2003 entry-draft.
Sounds like a good deal trading a first-round pick for a second-rounder. (Thanks Nonis for the smart move in at least getting something back for Cloutier!!) But exactly how good is Steve Bernier??
Known as a power-forward, Bernier’s first season with the Sharks were above average, gathering 15 goals and 16 assists in 62 games. However his presence were not as needed in San Jose’s line-up with their strength up-front. The 6’2 Quebec native was the main assest going back to Buffalo via the Brian Campbell trade before this year’s trading deadline. Usually in these kind of trades, the asset going back to other way for a star player like Campbell must have excellent potentials, as numerous offers were given to the Sabres in a short period of time, so they must like what they are getting back for the deal to went through.
Prior to the trade to Buffalo, Bernier played 59 games, gathering 13 goals and 10 assists, then he played 17 games with the Sabres notching up 3 goals and 6 assists. Not spectacular numbers, but still decent for a new player second year into his pro game. He told reporters that he was shocked at being traded the second time within a year, thinking his stay with the Sabre would be longer.
To some, this may shake the player’s confidence a bit, especially for a young first-rounder, but according to Bernier’s agent, Gilles Lupien (who is also the agent of Canucks star-netminder Roberto Luongo) says that his client is very confident he will excel in Vancouver. (Of course, that’s what they are paid to say!!!)
So what are his chances?? Let’s take a look.
He is a power-forward who has all the skills and potential to be a star player, and as of today, he is the best right-winger the Canucks have. With Naslund signed in New York, and Morrision showing signs of not returning, the Canucks are in desperate need of top-six forwards. With the exception of the Sedin twins, and newly acquired centerman Kyle Wellwood, Bernier is perhaps the only other top six forward they have. If Gillis do not trade the Sedins away, with Wellwood natural in center, Bernier is highly likely to play winger on the top line with the Sedins.
So, I think Bernier will soon be logging up heavy minutes in Vancouver, and with an opportunity like this, it seems like he has a big chance to improve his numbers this year. If Anson Carter and Taylor Pyatt can benefit so much from play wing with the Sedins, imagine what Bernier can do.
But, with the atmosphere in Vancouver these days, and a trigger-happy GM who’s been on the frying pan for his lack of efforts during the UFA signings, don’t be surprised to see more changes coming. But first thing is first, Bernier is still a Restricted Free Agent at the time I’m writing this blog, so Gillis will have to sign him first.
(Yes, I am aware of all the rumors about an offer sheet coming his way, but no I don’t think Bernier will be wearing any other uniform besides the blue and green next year).