The Columbus Blue Jackets, ravaged by injuries and floundering at the bottom of the league standings, are going to give an interesting young prospect a chance. Tim Berni has been recalled from the minor leagues, with Brendan Gaunce returned to the AHL to make room.
Berni, 22, was picked 159th overall in 2018 but made a name for himself while playing for Switzerland at the World Juniors and for his club team back home. A three-time member of the Swiss junior contingent, he captained the team at the 2020 tournament. He won a National League title in 2018 with the ZSC Lions after a late-season recall, and continued playing strong defense for the club for the next few seasons.
Last year, he came to North America and played the entire season with the Cleveland Monsters, racking up 15 points and 44 penalty minutes in 72 games. The left-shot defenseman isn’t really an offensive piece, but has an incredible work ethic in his own end and aggressively shuts down plays with quick feet. ’
In what has become a lost season for the Blue Jackets, getting a glance at Berni in the NHL will give the organization a bit more data for contract negotiations in the summer when his entry-level deal expires. Is this someone who could potentially contribute down the road, or is he limited to minor-league success? With so many regular defensemen injured, Columbus will get a chance to answer some of those questions.