Big Bear’s Big Deal

by Ryan

The rumor last summer was that Darcy Regier pulled the trigger on trading Steve Bernier because an offer sheet was looming for the RFA forward. Nothing was ever explicitly stated, but sure enough Vancouver had to match a $2.5 million offer sheet from St. Louis. It was a curious move, but one that clearly proved Bernier was a valuable commodity last summer.

Canucks Blackhawks Hockey

The one year deal meant Bernier was an RFA once again, but yesterday Vancouver announced that Big Bear was extended for another two years at $2 million per.

Now I have two questions. First, is Bernier worth that money? The last two years his salary has increased one million dollars and his point total remained the same.

Now I know other people have seen him play a lot more than I have, but the knock on him is that he would take some games off and struggled to finish while with San Jose. We saw him fade into the background after his debut against Nashville, and he only had nine points in 17 games with Buffalo last year. What about this season?

Bernier started on the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, but struggled to convert numerous scoring chances from close range and finished as a third-unit winger.

“We all would have liked to have seen him score more with the opportunities he had, but he got those opportunities and generated those opportunities,” Gillis said. “We are designing a program with him where we are hoping he ll be able to relax and capitalize on those chances.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but that sounds about right when it comes to Bernier. Which leads me to my next question: with hindsight in mind, would you rather have Bernier on this team as opposed to another forward, given his shiny new contract and all? The Sabres have a few $2-3 million guys on the roster, and a number of RFAs that might get numbers close to that.

Would you rather have Bernier on the team as opposed to a MacArthur, Stafford, or Paille? Better yet, would you rather have Bernier on the team and not have traded for Rivet, or perhaps flipped another mid-range player for the picks to acquire the Sabres current captain?

I ask because try as I may, I don’t see the current Sabres team with Steve Bernier on it. When Buffalo traded for him at the deadline last season my first thought was that we already had enough guys like him. In a way I still feel that’s true, and so I have a hard time finding a place for him given the guys we’ve kept on the roster.

So would you rather have Bernier on the roster, and if so 1) was he worth the offer sheet/new contract and 2) who do you get rid of to make room for Big Bear? My answers are “maybe” and “MacArthur”, but I don’t think that’s good enough to undo last summer’s moves. Does anyone have anything different?


  1. I think for the Nucks, the deal makes sense. They need those types of big bodies to compete in the West, naturally they already have Kesler and his mean streak, but Bernier does have some offensive upside. See Feb. 27, 2008 Nashville / Buffalo.

    But you are right when I just don’t see him fitting in with this current roster. Hecht, Goose, Bernier? Can’t say I can see where he would fit either.

  2. Mike

    I don’t get where the whole “MacArthur sucks” meme came from, but I sort of don’t get it. Is he inconsistent? God yes. So is the rest of the team. I don’t think he’s any less consistent then the rest of them. He had a pretty productive year, especially considering the number of games he sat out. And he will likely get better. I know this isn’t a great endorsement but I’d gladly send Jochen Hecht packing before I’d even consider doing anything with MacArthur.

  3. I don’t think its any secret that I’m very high on Steve Bernier. However, I can think about his position on this team rationally.

    1. He was not worth the offer sheet, that’s pretty clear, hence the paycut. However, I do feel he’s worth the new contract, now that he’s found some great chemistry with Wellwood and Pyat; the three are a pretty solid third line. When things fall apart with the Sedins and suddenly Bernier is asked to play top line minutes, things will go badly.

    2. MacArthur is also my answer. They produce comparable numbers but Bernier plays a more physical game than MacArthur and is better in his own zone.

  4. Pyatt*

    I hate typos that make me look dumb, haha.

  5. The only thing Bernier has over our collection of third liners is size. I don’t claim to know Bernier’s playing all that well, but he seems exactly like the type of player the Sabres need LESS of. Inconsistent, possibly lazy.

    I still think Rivet was a great pick-up, so no, I’m not sorry we let Big Bear go. If Darcy can swing it, I think we should let MacArthur go in the exact same way this summer.

    Mike, Hecht has exactly zero value on the trade market. So while I agree it’d be nice to get his contract off the books, we’d probably have to give up something else in any trade involving Hecht.

  6. Mike

    I don’t necessarily think we’ll get that much for MacArthur either, and like I said, I liked the way he played. I think he has a sort of knack for timely goals and is obviously quite a bit quicker than Bernier. If anything, Bernier was like a better version of Mark Mancari.
    I’m just also saying if we have to get someone off of our roster, I’m definitely going Hecht first.
    I’m actually mostly okay with our forward strength, but at the same time, they desperately need a leader type like Chris Drury. I think you’d have to lose someone like Roy at this rate to get someone like that, and I’d actually be kind of ok with that. I think he might be the most expendable and have the highest trade value, especially considering his contract number would not be that big a hit for what he offers.

  7. Keller

    The only reason Bernier got an offer sheet from the Blues was in retaliation for the Canuckleheads offer sheet to David Backes…dick move by the Couv’ management…St. Louis returned the favor by offering tubby a $2.5 sheet to Tubby Von Bear.

    Is he worth $2.5…or $2.0…not as far as I can tell. He got a gift gwg against the Note in the playoffs but was pretty much invisible in the Western Whalers games I watched.

    Backes on the other hand is worth $2.5…and if Clarke Mac Arthur can score 30 goals, he too would be worth it.