The New Jersey Devils have announced that they have re-signed forward Steve Bernier to a one year contract for around the league minimum of $600,000.
Bernier is coming off a down season for him in 2013-14, and is part of the Devils 4th line, or “CBGB line” as it is nicknamed. The Devils front office has maintained that they will try to bring back all three members of that line, they are all restricted free agents, and Bernier is the first member to return.
Many fans will not like this signing because Bernier did not play well last season and his presence on the roster for next year will block the path for a younger player to come up through the minor league system. The Devils know he had a rough season and they leveraged that into getting Bernier to come back for a minimal salary. This decreases their risk and could provide a scenario where Bernier could be released during the season if he does not produce.
I wrote earlier about the Devils not wanting to commit $7 million to one player and they spent that sum on 3 players (Cammalleri, Havlat, and Bernier) so far today to bolster the offense. I am also quite certain that some fans and members of the media will criticize the Devils for all three of these moves. The issue with the Cammalleri contract will be that they gave a 32 year old guy a 5 year contract. The issue with the Havlat contract is that he may not produce enough offense to warrant the investment and the team could have brought in 2 younger guys with the amount they paid just for him. The Bernier deal will be scrutinized because he did not produce and many fans want the younger players in Albany to get a shot at significant playing time, which will not happen with certain players already on the roster.
New Jersey will probably look to add the other two members of the “CBGB line” : Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter as the free agency period moves forward.