The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenceman Tim Berni to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 2, 2020
Blue Jackets sign Tim Berni
Tim Berni was drafted 159th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by Columbus. He is a 5’11” 174-pound defenceman from Mannedorf, Switzerland. The twenty-year-old represented the Swiss in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 World Junior Championships. Berni was a strong player for Switzerland. He was named one of the country’s top three players in the 2019 and 2020 tournaments and served as captain this year. In 17 games in the World Juniors, Bernie has five assists.
During the past three seasons, Berni has played with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s top professional league. As a Lion, he has scored five goals, added 14 assists for 19 points in 94 games. He averaged 16:41 with the Lions this season.
Corey Pronman of The Athletic wrote about the Blue Jackets’ farm system two years ago. Here is what he wrote about Berni.
“Berni is a skilled puck-mover who can run a power play and generate clean zone exits due to his hockey sense. He’s not the biggest guy, though, and not that quick for a small guy, although his skating is average overall.”
Berni’s coach with ZSC, Rikard Gronborg, had good things to say about him.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed a tremendously dedicated, skilled- and smooth skating defenseman. But what sticks out with me, is the great person and teammate behind it all. Best of luck Tim! @zsclions @BlueJacketsNHL #zsc #elitehockeyplayers #nhl https://t.co/18vlEpPwik
— Rikard Grönborg (@ComRikard) April 2, 2020
Here is a clip of Berni from this year’s World Juniors.
What this means for the future
Tim Berni will more than likely play either in the AHL or ECHL in Columbus’s farm system next year. He will have an advantage over many new players because he has already been playing against men in high calibre professional hockey for three years. His 16:41 of in average ice-time for ZSC this season shows that he is capable of playing at that level. He may transition to the professional game quicker than most 20-year-olds.
His NHL future is unknown. His lack of scoring and low draft position doesn’t make him a top prospect. He will have to be a solid defenceman in the AHL with Cleveland for at least a year before getting on the radar as a call-up.