Apr 18, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Jersey Devils center Ryan Carter (20) celebrates his goal with right wing Steve Bernier (18) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Bernier 2013-14 Preview

Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta are set up to have an interesting year. One of the two will likely play on the 3rd or 4th line, while the other could see more AHL time in their future. With 3 centermen (Carter, Loktionov, Josefson) likely fighting for one spot at center, one of those 3 could end up moving to RW to take a 3rd or 4th line spot from Bernier and Gionta.

His Past

Apr 10, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Steve Bernier (18) hits Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) during the third period at the Prudential Center. The Bruins defeated the Devils 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Bernier had produced 20+ points every season until the 2010-11 season with the Florida Panthers. He was on pace to get around 30 points last year if there was a full season. Bernier has always been a pretty steady 3rd or 4th line playmaker. He has always shown the ability to score goals and be a team player.

Yes we do all remember Game 6 of the Finals when he got that major that the Kings scored 3 goals off of but still, everyone makes mistakes right?

Despite the major and his 13 points total on 56 NHL games (including playoffs), the Devils signed him to a 2-year, 1.55 million dollar contract that expires at the end of the 2013-14 season.

What to Expect

With 3 centermen (Carter, Loktionov, Josefson) possibly fighting for one spot at center, one of those 3 could end up moving to RW to take a 3rd or 4th line spot from Bernier and Gionta.

Per CapGeek, the Devils have 7 centers in New Jersey including Adam Henrique. If you assume that Patrik Elias plays at LW with Travis Zajac (C) and Jaromir Jagr (RW), that leaves Henrique, Dainius Zubrus, Andrei Loktionov, Jacob Josefson, and Ryan Carter.

There are two scenarios that could arise from this:

  • Either Loktionov, Josefson, or Carter play at RW if they deserve it over Gionta or Bernier through camp competitions. One of those three would play at RW, another of the three would get sent down, and the last one gets the 4th line spot.

The second scenario looks a little like this:

  • Basically, the third line is Rostislav Olesz (LW), Loktionov at Center, and Zubrus moves over to RW. That would give Henrique a deserved 2nd line position instead of a 3rd line spot and it would also narrow the competition at C to Ryan Carter and Jacob Josefson.

Apr 7, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Steve Bernier (18) passes the puck in front of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) during the first period at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The second scenario would push out either Stephen Gionta or Steve Bernier and there could be 2 two-man position battles at forward. Albany will probably need the RW anyway because, per CapGeek, they only have 3 at the moment.

Stephen Gionta does look like the odd man out because there would be far less problems sending him down considering he has a two-way contract for this season. The Devils will probably keep Krys Barch for depth as they did last year.

I am still on the fence about where exactly Steve Bernier would end up but I do see his season starting in the NHL to start the season, barring a dazzling performance by Gionta.

Initially, in my discussion with Kevin on Twitter, I said that Henrique would get pushed to the third line because Zubrus would take the 2nd line based on experience and stature. Now, upon further review, it seems very likely that Zubrus does go to RW on the 3rd line to grant another center a roster spot and potentially push out one of the two RW that they feel could use more development in Albany.

Bottom Line:

While I believe that Bernier will definitely start in the NHL this season, Gionta could swoop in and take it from him and Bernier could be in Albany before he realizes what happened.

Stay tuned for more Previews! Next will be D Bryce Salvador.

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Tags: New Jersey Devils Stephen Gionta Steve Bernier

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