Shocked by trade to Canucks, Bernier hopes to improve game

The Canadian Press

7/4/2008 5:01:25 PM

VANCOUVER - At first he was shocked by the news but big winger Steve Bernier says he hopes being traded to the Vancouver Canucks will help bring some consistency to his game.
The Canucks obtained Bernier on Friday from the Buffalo Sabres for second-and third-round draft picks. The former first-round pick, who split last season between Buffalo and San Jose, learned about the deal while golfing in his native Quebec City.

"When I got the call I was shocked," Bernier said during a telephone conference call while still on the golf course. "Right now the only thing I am thinking about is getting in shape and having a chance to improve myself with the Vancouver Canucks.

"I didn't see this coming. I got traded last year in February. I thought I was going to stay there (Buffalo) for a little while. It took me by surprise but it's part of the job. I'm going to Vancouver and it's tough not to be happy."

The 23-year-old had 32 points (16-16) in 76 games last year with the Sabres and Sharks.

"Steve Bernier is a highly regarded young player who's enjoyed success early in his career," said Canuck general manager Mike Gillis. "With his right-handed shot he will be a great addition to our top six forward group and an asset to our power play."

San Jose took the six-foot-two, 227-pound Bernier 16th overall in the 2003 draft.

In 177 career NHL games he has 45 goals and 90 points.

Despite showing flashes of talent Bernier shuffled back and forth between the NHL and the minor leagues.

"Sometimes you get down and sometimes you get up," he said. "What I am going to try and do is always be at the same level, always play at the highest level I can play.

"Maybe I was up and down too much. I want to change that and be a very effective player for 82 games."

The Sabres get Vancouver's second-round pick in 2009 and third-rounder in 2010.

The Canucks landing Bernier comes one day after former captain Markus Naslund, Vancouver's career leader in goals and points, signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers. The team is also in a holding pattern while free-agent Mats Sundin mulls over a US$20-million, two-year offer.

Even with the addition of Bernier, plenty of questions remain about Vancouver's ability to score goals this year.

Daniel Sedin led Vancouver last year with 29 goals, Naslund had 25 and Ryan Kesler 21.

Fans were hoping Gillis would make a make a splash in the free agent market. He made headlines with the offer to Sundin but his other moves have been pedestrian.

Among the other forwards Vancouver has signed are physical player Darcy Hordichuk, defensive specialist Ryan Johnson and playmaker Kyle Wellwood.

The Canucks missed the playoffs this spring for the second time in three years. That resulted in the firing of general manager Dave Nonis, who was replaced by Gillis.