Cory Conacher is still very much under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the NHL season is far from over, but that isn’t stopping SC Bern and their NLA competitors from pursuing him. Formerly a breakout prospect that once upon a time fetched Ben Bishop in a trade, Conacher’s NHL career burned bright early on and burned out just as fast. Conacher record 24 points in his first 35 NHL games in 2012-13, but has recorded just 51 points in 158 NHL games since. He may be looking for a change of scenery and Swiss teams are willing to oblige.
Conacher has remained a dominant AHL force throughout his career, maintaining a near point-per-game pace in over 300 career minor league games. Yet, his best pro season actually came back in 2015-16, when he spent the season overseas in Switzerland with SC Bern. Conacher led Bern in scoring with 52 points and finished in the top five in the NLA in scoring, while leading Bern to an unexpected championship. The team has won two more championships since, but in the midst of a down year they are reminiscing about better times. With Conacher’s NHL hopes all but dashed, Bern hopes that they can entice him to return.
Beat writer Reto Kirchhofer writes that Bern is interested in signing Conacher, perhaps even before the end of the season, and GM Alex Chatelain recently met with the 30-year-old forward while visiting the U.S. Kirchhofer does not believe that Conacher will ask for a release from the Lightning this season, but feels that he will become a real target this off-season. However, he adds that Bern will not be the only Swiss club pursuing the former NLA superstar. Conacher could play on another minimum two-way deal with the Lightning again next year, as he has for the past four seasons, but he will likely at least be interested in the potential bidding war awaiting him in Switzerland this summer.