GM: Paja Jansson (6th GM in team’s history)
Coach: Mike Babcock
Last season: 21st overall, out of the playoffs
Ins and Outs (Season 6 to Season 7)
Out: Dennis Seidenberg (free agent), Joe Thornton (free agent), Andrei Kostitsyn (waivers), Drew Miller (free agent),Michael Raffl (free agent), Mike Lundin (free agent)
In: Josef Vasicek (free agent), Dmitry Orlov (free agent), Jamie McBain (free agent), Jeff Petry (free agent), Jiri Hudler (free agent), Nathan Gerbe (free agent), Tony Martensson (free agent); Joonas Korpisalo (draft), Tyler Benson (draft)
In Place (Key players signed past Season 7)
Josef Vasicek, LW; Mark Stone, RW; Mika Zibanejad, C; Dmirty Orlov, D; Jan Laco, G;
1. Can Bern win with a goals per game average under 2.5? A lack of offense is probably the biggest reason for Bern’s big dropoff from Season 4 to Season 5. Goals per game dropped by more than three-quarters of a goal and got even a little lower last season. The Interrail are going nowhere fast without more offensive production. Four free agent forwards were signed for this season, but all four lines will have to get better if the team is to improve. Feeling the most pressure will be Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad and newcomer Josef Vasicek, who has the highest lifetime plus-minus rating among all active forwards in the EURO League. Next on the feeling pressure list will be four veterans expected to provide on-ice leadership for the younger players on the team. Henrik Zetterberg, Brooks Laich, Jiri Hudler and Tony Martensson will get second- and third-line action, but in a surprise move, Coach Mike Babcock has placed the captaincy roles into the hands of younger, long-term players Stone, Zibanejad and goalie Joonas Korpisalo. The fourth line is very sound with Lance Bouma, Leo Komarov and Brian Flynn.
2. What has worked in Bern? Bern only moved up one spot, from 22nd overall to 21st overall last season, but their team statistics show they moved in the right direction after their devastating drop from Season 4 to Season 5. Coach Mike Babcock obviously concentrated on defense last year, as the Bears reduced their shots against total and made huge strides in penalty killing, stopping opponents’ powerplays at an 87 percent rate, the best PK mark in the team’s history. And that improvement occurred after the franchise’s star defenseman – Brent Seabrook – departed in free agency. Babcock’s personnel wasn’t exactly an all-star team last year, with Tobias Enstrom and Dennis Seidenberg leading a defense corps that included Johnny Boychuk, Rafael Diaz, Nicklas Grossmann and Anton Babchuk. This season, there have been major changes. Enstrom remains, but he’s the only one still in the Interrail’s starting lineup. New General Manager Paja Jansson has rebuilt the defense with younger players – three of whom came to Bern as free agents.
3. Who is their goaltender? Goaltending was a definite strong point last season for Bern. The team yielded the sixth-most shots per game in the EURO League, but its goals against average ranked five spots better, putting the goalies in the middle of the pack. Bear fans are totally used to seeing Mike Smith protecting their goal. He was the starter for Bern for the first five seasons of their existence and at age 35 last season, he split duty with Jan Laco. Both goalies had save percentages over 90 percent. Coming into Season 7, Smith’s contract had expired, as had the contract of Thomas Greiss, a 31-year-old German who watched from the team’s farm club in Lyon, France, all last season when it looked like he might be given the chance to step into the starting role. Fans were interested to see which direction new General Manager Paja Jansson would take the team. Jansson quickly added another goalie to the mix by drafting 21-year-old Joonas Korpisalo and he let Greiss walk. After three seasons in Frankfurt/Lisbon, the 31-year-old Slovakian Laco showed he can handle an increased workload, but Coach Babcock has decided to sit him so far this season and go with the veteran Smith and the kid Korpisalo. The experiment has had mixed results – in fact, the opposite of what most experts would have predicted – with the veteran Smith playing poorly through three games and the rookie Korpisalo playing 5 games with a 91.2 save percentage and 2.80 goals against average.
Season Place PTS PP % PK % SPG SAPG GPG GAPG PIM
Season 6 21 71 13.10 87.0 24.45 31.77 2.40 3.16 9.99
Season 5 22 59 13.20 81.30 26.00 32.29 2.45 3.46 10.66
Season 4 10 94 17.6 82.1 30.71 30.34 3.24 3.12 11.48
Season 3 14 86 18.0 82.6 29.88 30.78 3.2 3.37 11.43
Season 2 11 93 17.9 83.3 30.96 29.66 3.32 3.04 10.09
Season 1 2 119 25.2 83.1 31.87 28.82 3.88 2.73 7.52
Top Draft picks
Season 1: Claude Giroux, RW, currently age 29. GP 483, Pts 562, -88
Season 2: Scott Glennie, C, age 26.
Season 3: Dalton Prout, D, age 26. GP 140, Pts 31, +2
Season 4: Cam Talbot, G, age 29. GP 58, Save pct. 89.4
Season 5: Kjetil Martinsen, RW, age 23.
Season 6: Mark Stone, RW, age 23. GP 82, Points 36, -56
Season 7: Joonas Korpisalo, G, age 21.
Season 1 (picks without years listed are from initial draft)
Traded Round 8 pick (used to draft Martin Erat) 2013 Round 1 (Weiyang Zhang) and 2013 Round 2 pick (Leonardo Genoni) to Bratislava for Round 5 pick (used to draft Kimo Timonen)
Traded Claude Giroux to Frankfurt for Rd 3 pick (Brent Seabrook) and Rd 4 pick (Jason Spezza)
Traded Rd 2 pick (Derek Stepan) to Edinburgh for Rd 3 pick (Daniel Sedin) and Rd 5 pick (Ray Whitney)
Traded Daniel Sedin and Rd 12 pick (Max Talbot) to Oslo for Rd 4 pick (Radim Vrbata) and Rd 6 pick (Johan Franzen)
Traded Rd 10 pick (Devan Dubnyk) to Belfast for Rd 12 pick (Sami Salo)and Rd 24 pick (Douglas Murray)
Traded Rd 14 pick (Matt Cullen), Rd 25 pick (Daniel Paille) and 2013 Rd 3 pick (Nathan Beaulieu) to Minsk for Rd 12 pick (Dan Winnick)
Traded Rd 13 pick (Dmitri Orlov), Rd 19 pick (Carlo Colaiacovo) and 2014 Rd 1 pick (Jake Muzzin) to Paris for Adrian Aucoin
Traded Dan Winnick to Edinburgh for Rd 15 pick (Evgeny Kuznetsov)
Traded Rd 20 pick (Brandon Prust) and Rd 22 pick (Mark Visentin) to Madrid for Sammi Pahlsson
Traded Nicklas Backstrom (goalie) to Geneva for 2013 Rd 3 pick (Scott Glennie), 2014 Rd 3 pick (Tommy Wingels) and $1.5 million
Season 2 – None
Season 3 – None
Traded 2017 Round ? pick to Minsk for Jon Merrill
Traded Dalton Prout and Mike Cammalleri to Stockholm for Shane Doan, Anton Babchuk and Corey Potter
Traded Cam Talbot to Belfast for 2017 Round 1 pick
After the start of Season 5
Signed Fredrik Norrena (free agent)
Traded Evgeny Kuznetsov and Mats Rosselli Olsen to Lisbon for Joe Thornton
Signed Matt Halischuk (free agent)
Traded 2018 Round 3 pick to to Copenhagen for Thomas Greiss
Traded 2018 Round 2 pick to Berlin for 2018 Round 2 pick and Brian Flynn
After season started: signed Jared Boll (free agent), signed Luke Gazdic (free agent); bought out contracts for Johnny Boychuk and Matt Hunwick; claimed Ryan Spooner (waivers), claimed Radek Faksa (waivers)