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Columbus signs Berard


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The Columbus Blue Jackets have added another veteran defenceman. TSN has learned that Columbus has inked Bryan Berard to a 2-year deal worth $4.5 million.

On Monday, Columbus agreed to terms with Adam Foote, one of the most-coveted defencemen on the free agent market.

Berard is one of just 10 defencemen who have scored 10 or more goals in each of the past two seasons. In 2003-04, he led all Western Conference defensemen in points per game (0.82), ranked eighth among all blueliners in points (47) and 13th in goals (13) with 13-34-47, despite playing just 58 games with the Chicago Blackhawks.

He also tied New Jersey's Scott Niedermayer and Dallas' Sergei Zubov for ninth in power play points by a defenseman with 6-19-25 that year. The season marked the third in a row in which his offensive production increased.

Following the campaign, Berard was awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy given annually to the "NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

"Bryan is one of the best skaters in the National Hockey League and brings a level of speed to our blueline that we've never had in the past," said general manager Doug MacLean. "He has great size and is a gifted offensive player who can pass and shoot the puck extremely well. With a more wide-open game coming in the NHL, Bryan should really flourish and we're excited about what he adds to our hockey team."

The 28-year-old native of Woonsocket, Rhode Island made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders in 1996-97. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year that season, collecting 8-40-48 and 86 penalty minutes in 82 games. The following year, he notched 14-32-46 and 59 penalty minutes in 75 games.

Berard was acquired by Toronto late in the 1998-99 season and tallied 8-41-49 and 64 penalty minutes in 102 games with the Maple Leafs before suffering a serious eye injury in a game vs. Ottawa on Mar. 11, 2000. The injury forced him to miss the 2000-01 season. He returned to action the following year with the New York Rangers and picked up 2-21-23 and 60 penalty minutes in 82 games.

Berard's comeback continued with the Boston Bruins in 2002-03 when he netted 10-28-38 and 64 penalty minutes in 80 games. In 510 career NHL games, he has 59-207-266 points and 412 penalty minutes. He has collected 30 or more points six times in seven seasons and has topped the 40-point mark three times.

The first overall pick of the 1995 Entry Draft, Berard was a two-time Canadian Major Junior First All-Star Team selection with Detroit of the Ontario Hockey League. In 1994-95, he tallied 20-55-75 and 97 penalty minutes in 58 games. The following year, he was the Canadian Major Junior Defenceman of the Year after picking up 31-58-89 and 116 penalty minutes in 56 games.

He has represented the United States in international competition several times during his career, including the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. Berard is one of 39 players, including 14 defencemen, invited by USA Hockey to attend this summer's Men's Olympic Orientation Camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado from September 5-8. He was also a member of Team USA at the 1994 and 1995 World Junior Championships and at the 1997 World Championships.

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