2022-23 Player Review: Tim Berni surpassed expectations simply by sticking around
The former sixth round pick impressed his coaches with his calm, steady play.
Of all of the AHL call-ups from the Cleveland Monsters to fill out the defensive ranks, the only player to not really bounce back and forth was Swiss defenseman, Tim Berni. I don't think anybody, including Berni, could have imagined him suiting up for nearly 60 games in the NHL just one year removed from his jump to North America. Not too bad for the 2018 sixth-round pick.
Berni is the kind of defenseman who is at his best when you are not noticing him. He's never going to be the flashy offensive blueliner putting up points, nor will he be the bruising bully on the backend. He's someone who doesn't necessarily excel at any particular facet of the game, but he's solid enough at them all and is sound defensively. That's nothing to scoff at considering there are hundreds of defenseman of that ilk that have played many years in the league.
He settled into the lineup, played a little over 16 minutes per game, and most importantly he stayed healthy. In a defensive corps that was completely decimated by injuries, Berni proved his worth simply being available. Thats something that can't be said for many of his teammates.
5v5 CF%: 44.5%
5v5 FF%: 43.4%
Berni is now a restricted free agent, having exhausted his entry-level deal. I'd say he earned himself a modest raise with his play this year. I'm not quite sure he's earned himself a one-way deal, but it's safe to assume his AHL salary will be pretty healthy considering his NHL experience.
Berni posted assists in 2 of his last 3 games of the year, including this beautiful stretch pass to Carson Meyer that led to a goal by Liam Foudy.
He also notched his first NHL goal in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Berni found himself in the right place at the right time to receive a no-look centering feed from Patrik Laine. Berni skated down the slot and tallied his first bingo.
Yes, there were times when he made a bad read, got burned by an opposing forward, or committed a really bad turnover. He was a rookie and it was expected. I'm honestly not sure I can single out a low point for a guy who really was probably just happy to be here. Collecting a much larger NHL salary for the year when it was unexpected is going to be a win regardless.
Report Card: B
Can't hate on what Berni did this year considering he wasn't even supposed to be here. He chewed up minutes, got lots of NHL experience, and was a healthy, warm body on defense. If he can build on all he learned this past season, there is no reason he can't carve out a third pair role in the NHL.