The 30-year old Berard will battle for a spot on the Islanders’ blue line when camp opens on Sept. 14 in Moncton.
"I loved my time on Long Island and I have great memories of how everyone treated me during my first three years in the NHL," said Berard. "I’m coming off a tough season when I was injured and I know I have a lot to prove. The Islanders offered me this opportunity and I’m going to re-pay them by making the most of it. I’m healthy and I’m determined to show Ted Nolan and the team that I can help the Islanders have a great season."
Said Islanders general manager Garth Snow: "You can never have enough skill in your organization. Bryan Berard still has tremendous upside as a defenseman and a power play point man. We’re happy to give him this opportunity to try and make our club."
Berard played the last two seasons in Columbus, where he was coached by Gerard Gallant, a new member of Nolan’s staff for 2007-08. Besides his Calder Trophy season with the Islanders, Berard’s best year was in 2003-04 when he was 13-34-47 in just 58 games with the Chicago Blackhawks. In 565 career NHL games with the Islanders, Toronto, Rangers, Boston, Chicago and Columbus, Berard has 71 goals and 230 assists for 301 points.
"Bryan is definitely worthy of a long look from us," said Nolan. "You’re always looking for depth on defense, and Bryan is a defenseman with excellent skating ability and someone who can run a power play. Gerard Gallant spoke highly of him, our staff likes his competitiveness and I know our fans understand how talented Bryan is. I’m looking forward to him showing us what he can do."
Follwing up on an earlier update The Journal Pioneer today announced the Islanders will play an intra-squad Blue and White exhibition game at the city’s wellness centre Saturday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m.
The Guardian had comments from the press conference.
“On Sept. 22, we will all be Islanders,” said a smiling Chelsey Moisan, the Summerside Boys and Girls Club member who officially announced the news at a press conference here Thursday.
“One day’s real short, but we’re going to make a lot of fun out of it,” said Islanders assistant coach Gerard Gallant.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow, who joined the press conference by phone, said fans can expect a high level of play. “Whether it’s a veteran who’s been around for many years or a rookie just coming in, everyone wants to make an impression.”