Goodbye, Friars, hello, Wolf Pack. That’s the route Brett Berard will take as the New York Rangers announced Tuesday they’d officially agreed on a three-year entry-level contract beginning next season, with their 2020 fifth round, 134th overall draft pick. The deal includes a $925,000 salary should he make the NHL, and earnings of $80,000 during his minor league tenure.
Berard, 20, recently finished his junior season at Providence College, where he recorded ten goals and 14 assists for 24 points in 36 games, and is now age-eligible for the rigors of the AHL. He’s expected to report to Hartford immediately on an amateur tryout contract and give the Wolf Pack depth as they push for their first Calder Cup playoff appearance in eight seasons.
The Rhode Island native scored 33 goals in a Friars uniform to go along with 39 assists for 72 points in 91 games over his NCAA career. Last season, the 5’9,152IB left winger was the team leader in goals(18) and points(38) while also pacing the Hockey East with eight power-play goals. In 2021-22, he was nominated for the Walter Brown Award, an annual honor bestowed upon the best American-born DI College Hockey in New England.
Internationally, Berard has played at two World Junior Championships for the United States(2017, 2021), winning gold in 2021, where he had a +8 rating.
Berard is known for his skating speed and quick hands while tough to be knocked off the puck. According to dobberprospects.com, Berard is a “Diminutive forward with a crafty skill set and a willingness to get to the net. His playmaking ability is creative and aimed at the middle of the ice.”
The website also gives him an 85% chance of reaching the NHL, with the potential of morphing into a top-six forward. Brett’s junior career started in 2012 as an eleven-year-old with the Boston Brick Junior Bruins, where he had four points in six games.
In 2018, he played for the Cape Cod Whalers of the MHSL, with his four points in eight games opening the eyes of USA hockey scouts, who quickly signed him to their U17 team.
In his rookie season, Berard recorded 11 goals and served 21 assists for 32 points in 78 games before exploding at the World Hockey championships for two and six points in five games. Yet it was his jump to the USHL which turned the heads of NHL scouts, for his 23 goals and 56 points in 54 games boosted his draft stock, and the Rangers pounced on him.
The youngster grew up in a hockey family. His father, David, was a goaltender for Providence College and currently coaches at Holy Cross university, making life easier for the kid regarding his college choice.
During his time as a Friar, Berard relished playing with his 19-year-old brother Brady, who is still looking for an NHL club to impress after going undrafted last Summer. To make room on the roster for Brett, who will wear #27 after sporting #21 at Providence, the Wolf Pack optioned 23-year-old forward Ben Tardif(15 games, 1 goal, 5 points, had four points in 15 games with Colorado before being traded in December) to the ECHL, where he’ll rejoin the Jacksonville Icemen.