One of the more improbable developments from New Jersey’s playoff run was the production of its fourth line: Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta.
None of the three began the year on the team. Gionta and Bernier spent a chunk of the season in AHL Albany (Bernier came into Devils camp on a tryout) and Carter was snagged off waivers from Florida — yet when it was all said and done, the trio combined for 21 points in 24 postseason games with a plus-11 rating.
On July 1, all three will become unrestricted free agents — and it sounds like they all want back in the mix.
“I played all year to prove that I want to be part of this organization,” Bernier told NorthJersey.com. “I tried to work as hard as possible and I’m just hoping I’ll be back.”
“I’ve been in this organization for six years now and I love being here and, obviously, I hope to stay,” Gionta added.
“I’d definitely like to come back,” Carter explained. “I think it’s rare when you get a group together that wins like this, so to be a part of it again would be great.”
Financially speaking, the Bernier-Gionta-Carter line was arguably the best in hockey (postseason, anyway.) Carter played on a $750,000 deal while Bernier ($525,000) and Gionta ($512,500) made close to the league minimum.
Each of them will likely seek raises should the Devils want them back, with Carter most likely to get a significant bump. The 28-year-old appeared in 65 games during the regular season — 4G-4A-8PTS — before scoring five times in the playoffs (including a pair of game-winning goals.)