Today's NYI Fan Central Final Review puts the spotlight on defender Bryan Berard.
The 2007-08 season for Berard was one where he had fallen so far in NHL circles he had to join a team on a tryout, prove he could stay healthy and produce at a high level. The years prior to this he had barely played and could not stay healthy.
Were a generation away from his trade to the Islanders as a young prospect, but his return was a notable one.
Berard did a credible job in camp, still showed he has good offensive intincts and even though he had to wait for an opening was signed by the club after the season began.
Offensively it was a respectable year for Berard on a low-scoring club. He had a few nice individual efforts that led to goals, including a five on three powerplay goal against the Rangers early. He also got hurt early which put him out for a few weeks, when he returned found himself benched often for poor defensive play with extra defenders waiting for an opportunity. Occasionally Berard also displayed a physical edge but did have a breakdowns in front of his goaltenders and is not a player who is going to clear the crease.
What was interesting to me is he still showed the speed to avoid penalties in the defensive zone.
Berard has to share in the blame for the Islanders powerplay problems, especially the turnovers that led to shorthanded goals against with one play in Ottawa that hurt the club.
Funny thing happened along the way, when this teams depth caught up with it, Berard looked solid and did not hurt the club on defense and proved remarkably durable for all his health problems. His play on the point did not improve the offense but it's not fair to put that on any one player.
Given the depth on the roster already and the need for a defender who can quarterback a powerplay, it's tough to see him back just based on his defensive play. I do think he extended his career with his performance which will earn a contract with another team and will not have to try out again.
If Isles did not have Campoli, Gervais, Hillen and especially Meyer signed for the next two years I could see a spot for him here.
It's easy to fault him for his defense at times, but given where he came from going into this year and how steady he played down the stretch combined with some flashes of offensive skill on a flawed club, Berard gets a grade of C and a welcome back to the NHL for the long-term because he earned it with his play this season.