Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
School is out and it's time for final grades here at Islanders Point Blank. Over the course of the next month, Brian Erni and I will be taking a look at each of the players and analyzing their 2015-16 performance, from the drop of the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks in October to that 4-0 loss in Tampa that sent New York home amidst roster uncertainty. Contract details via nhlnumbers.com and stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com.
16 - Steve Bernier, wing
6-foot-3, 220 lbs
31 years of age
Contract: Unrestricted Free Agent
Season stats: 24 GP - 1 G - 5 A - 6 points - 27 shots - 11:14 ATOI - 45.6 CF Percentage
Career stats: 633 GP - 105 G - 125 A - 230 points - 988 shots - 13:15 ATOI - 49.7 CF Percentage
When Steve Bernier signed a tryout agreement with general manager Garth Snow on September 9, 2015, I am sure he envisioned coming into training camp and battling for a fourth-line role on an up-and-coming team.
After spending the previous four seasons with the New Jersey Devils spanning 224 games, the physical forward was looking to make a new mark with the Islanders at age 30. That was part of the reason he signed a full, one-year contract worth $750,000 on September 17 when it was offered to him during camp. It didn't quite work out that way.
More than likely, there was a misunderstanding as to what Bernier viewed himself as compared to the role Snow and head coach Jack Capuano saw him filling. Bernier thought he could still play effectively enough at this level as a bottom liner, and that seemed to be an accurate evaluation of his talents and experience (639 games played, 68 playoff games). Capauno and Snow saw him as nothing more than an injury replacement, never being afforded a real opportunity to unseat Matt Martin or Cal Clutterbuck off the fourth unit.
So, there Bernier went, basically becoming a practice squad player but always staying respectful of the process and management's decision to not go airing out any dirty laundry to the press. After playing 78 and 67 games the previous two seasons in Newark, getting dressed for only 24 regular-season games with the Islanders means he probably could have if he had so desired.
On the ice, he didn't find much success in the aforementioned rare games he found himself in, but, like a true professional, was always prepared to play and got the call for six playoff games in which he did not disappoint compared to what was expected of him. He, arguably, showed more fire than some regulars did, especially against the Lightning.
There is nothing left to do but wish Bernier luck as he will find work elsewhere for the 2016-17 season. Still only 31 years of age, maybe a team like Toronto would offer him a one or two-year deal to mentor the younger players on what life in the NHL is like, day in and day out.
IPB grade: C - never found any real traction with the Islanders, hard to justify any other grade.