I know, by now this is old news – but I fell asleep yesterday before I could give my take on this latest development.
For about a week there were some rumors circulating around the net that someone from a past Isles team (and a fan favorite) would be invited to camp. Speculation was running rampant about who it may be on several message boards, the front runners of discussion being Jonsson, Hogue, Berard and Turgeon. It would eventually come to light exactly who this player was, and it turned out to be none other than Bryan Berard.
Bryan Berard is a former Islander, having played for the team from 96-98 and part of 1999 before being traded to Toronto. Berard received the Calder trophy as the leagues top rookie as an Islander in the 1996 season. In 2000, Berard suffered a severe eye injury and he missed the entire season before returning with Toronto. Other team he has also played for; the Rangers, Bruins and Blue Jackets. Berard is coming off a back injury that forced him to miss all but 11 games of the 06/07 season with the Blue Jackets.
Injuries aside, Berard is an excellent puck moving defenseman, he is the QB type defenseman that the team has been looking for on the power play – but his breakdowns in the defensive zone have most questioning whether he is right for our team. Players often have a downside to whatever upside they bring – it is just a matter of whether the strengths and weaknesses balance out. Berard, when healthy is just as dangerous as any other offensive defenseman in the league. Prior to last season, his point totals were 38, 47 and 32 – not too shabby if you ask me. If he plays a complete season for the Islanders – I expect anywhere around 25-35 points, but it’s hard to predict points on a player who missed most of the previous season.
By extending Berard an invitation to camp, there is absolutely no risk to the Islanders. If he comes to camp completely healed form his injuries and outplays someone for a roster spot, he deserves to be offered a contract. It is simple logic to me – and mind you I am very high on both Campoli and Gervais. Should Berard have a strong camp (much like Richard Park last season) then it will certainly make our defensive situation interesting. We could wind up with one or two tradable players, which could help us down the road. The only other downside, one of Gervais or Meyer will most likely spend the year down in Bridgeport – as a majority of our defensive spots are filled with some veteran defenders.
Only time will tell what happens, but camp looks to be as exciting as ever – with players giving it their all, something Nolan absolutely loves to see.
To read some more on Berard, check out his platyer bio: http://nhlpa.com/WebStats/PlayerBiography.asp?ID=362
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