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.
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?