Vancouver matches Blues' offer for Bernier
By Jeremy Rutherford
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
When the Blues matched Vancouver’s pricey offer sheet to forward David Backes last week, team president John Davidson said: "This is an important message to the Blues team and fans . . . we’re not going to get pushed around by another organization."
On Tuesday, the Blues fired back again, signing Vancouver restricted free-agent forward Steve Bernier to a one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet. The Canucks had seven days to match, but like the Blues with Backes, were quick to equal the offer and retain Bernier.
The Blues might have been able to work out a deal with Backes in the $2 million range, but when Vancouver signed him to a $2.5 million offer sheet, the team was forced to match. Some saw Tuesday’s move by the Blues to sign Bernier, who made $850,000 last year, as retaliation.
The Blues would have surrendered a second-round draft pick in 2009 if Vancouver did not match.
"Steve is a good young player who would play a big part in our youth movement," Davidson said in a statement, prior to the offer being matched.
Only 23, Bernier has been a world traveler of late. The 16th overall pick by San Jose in 2003, he was traded to Buffalo last year in the deal that sent Brian Campbell to the Sharks. After scoring nine points in 17 games with Buffalo last year, the Sabres dealt him last Friday to Vancouver for a third-round draft pick in 2009 and a second-round pick in 2010.
In 177 career NHL games, Bernier has 45 goals and 90 points.
"Steve is a highly regarded young offensive player in our league," Vancouver GM Mike Gillis told reporters after matching the offer. "We have a great deal of respect for the St. Louis Blues, John Davidson, Larry Pleau, and their management team. The offer sheet to Bernier is a clear indication of how highly Steve is thought of in our league."