Editor's Note: nhlcheapshot is taking the "Who Will The Leafs Sign" in a different direction and makes a compelling case to want Burke to roll the UFA dice on a much maligned forward once again.
Saw this tweet today:
@renhockey Dale Tallon just told me that he won't make an offer to Steve Bernier. He's now UFA.
His stats are not mindblowing:
But after a closer look, the situation reminded me of another RFA who was allowed to become UFA....
Now I may be wrong, but looking at those first few years, he had pretty decent production for his age/ice time. Putting up around 15G/year with around 13.5 minutes of ice time, he carved himself a role where he was productive but never had to be the go-to point-producer.
Bernier was drafted 16th overall in the infamous 2003 NHL entry draft, 1 spot before Zach Parise. Since his trade to Florida, his production has fallen off a cliff - 5G, 15 points last year making $2,000,000. Not good. However, he was shooting at 5.2% (Career 11.9%) and had a PDO of 969. Additionally, he wasn't the only one who didn't blossom under Florida's system.
So is Bernier a bust? Or, barring a different set of circumstances, could he have had a breakout year? This is the tale of two players - Clarke MacArthur and Steve Bernier. All MacArthur needed was better linemates, more icetime and increased responsibility to prove he could produce as a Top 6 forward. Bernier may just need to be given the opportunity to do the same.
Let's take a look at some stats comparing the two by Age: Goals/60 minutes of ice time, Points/60 minutes of ice time, Average TOI, and Shooting %:
Now, the situations aren't identical. MacArthur wasn't even available until after his arbitration in August, after many teams had already completed the majority of their offseason shopping. He took a very low salary in what many of us considered a "meh" move for a 3rd liner.
In this situation, Bernier is available while all the teams still have all their money, and an extreme discount might be out of the question - but he's not exactly a premier UFA which would require overpayment either.
So, what say you - is Steve Bernier the type of player the Leafs should "buy low" on?
All stats from Hockey-Reference.com