In Depth Review of Ballard?
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09-09-2010, 03:21 AM
F A N
Join Date: Aug 2005
Here's my take on Bernier and Grabner.
I'm actually a fan of Bernier and one of the few Canucks fan (only one?) who would rather trade Grabner first before trading Bernier. He hasn't been worth his cap hit, but he's definitely not as bad or as frustrating of a player as some Canucks fans would have you believe. The thing is that Bernier has thus far failed to find his niche. When placed in an offensive role he tries to be a top 6 forward and plays more of a finesse game and when he's placed on a checking line he tries to be a physical presence but almost forgets what to do in the offensive zone. In other words, he lacks a bit of confidence in his offensive game and I think he's trying too hard. The fact that the Canucks play more of a puck possession game hurts Bernier as well. Bernier is not good in transition and definitely should not be handling the puck.
What Bernier does give you is an attractive skillset. How many guys have his size, physicality, speed, and shot? There's never too many. Bernier at his best can be a 2nd tier powerforward who scores 20+ goals. At worst he can physical force on your third line who can chip in offensively and play an offensive role when needed. He just needs to decide what type of player he wants to be. He definitely works hard and has been rather effective the past two playoff seasons. He actually has good straight-ahead speed once he gets moving but he has slow feet and bad footwork. Bernier has a hard and accurate shot and a quick release. He does a decent job of scoring garbage goals -- tipping in pucks and scoring goals of rebounds and loose pucks in front of the net. What he's not good at is one-timing cross-ice passes. That's where all the "Bernier misses many scoring opportunties" mostly come from. He didn't fit in well with the Sedins because the Sedins need a teammate who can convert their passes. Sedins are awesome at finding their teammate at almost the precise moment he becomes completely open and all you have to do is be ready and have your stick in the right position and direct it in. Bernier was horrible at it. And of course, his slow feet and average hockey sense also prevents him from getting into good scoring positions although he's not that bad at getting open in the slot area. The reality is that living up to the powerforward billing is incredibly hard. How many powerforwards manage to consistently score 30+ goals? 20+ goals? While still playing a powerforward-like game?
I had a chance to watch him a few times in junior. To me, Grabner lacks star quality and is one of those guys where if he doesn't score close to 30 goals, he'll ended up being traded sooner or later once his upside is gone because he doesn't bring much else. But Grabner is a goal scorer who should easily be a 20+ goal scorer in the NHL given a consistent top 6 role. I think the trade to Florida might be the best thing for him because he needs a genuine opportunity to establish himself as a top 6 player in the NHL (an opportunity he has never gotten with the Canucks).
Everyone has talked about Grabner's speed. Yes he's fast. He also has a very good shot. I think his slap shot is underrated. I wouldn't say he has great hockey sense, but he knows where to be in the offensive zone and senses scoring opportunities. Grabner finds a way to score and does not need a good playmaker. I'm not even sure if a good playmaker would help Grabner all that much since Grabner never played with a good playmaker.
Grabner has a great attitude, works hard, and never complains. He is not afraid to go to the corners even though he doesn't win too many 1 on 1 battles in the corners and he's not afraid to take the puck to the net or stand in front of the net. In fact, Grabner likes to be around the net and can put the puck home down low. With that said, Grabner is not Brett Hull. His one-timers and in-close finishing abilities aren't that good. But in the offensive zone and with the puck on his stick, he is dangerous when he finds room to get his shot off.
Grabner can score in transition but he's not a good puckhandler so you don't want him carrying the puck up ice. He doesn't get too many assists because quite frankly he's not a playmaker, but he's not selfish. In junior he would play the point on the PP and most of the time he would be looking to set up his teammates. He does have a tendency to float around and he can completely disappear in some games but he's worked at being consistent. Like most goal scorers, expect some nights where he just does nothing. Early on he was criticized for disappearing when games got physical, but I think that has more to do with Grabner being a streaky player and a lack of strength rather than a fear of contact. Grabner has definitely gotten stronger, allowing him to fight off checks more frequently.
This is just my opinion of course. In my mind, Bernier is a guy where his true value will likely exceed his production while Grabner's production will likely exceed his true value.
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