Hey look, Steve Bernier is back in the NHL

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The New Jersey Devils have upgraded Steve Bernier’s AHL contract to a two-way deal, meaning the 26-year-old winger will be eligible to join the club.

“He’s still on the same American League contract. We switched it to the minimum NHL so he could be called up and down,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told The Star-Ledger. “He still has a two-way for the same $105,000 (minor league) salary. We would’ve done this a couple months ago but he broke his hand.”

Bernier had originally turned down a similar two-way deal from New Jersey after attending training camp, only to come crawling back accept an AHL contract with Albany a month later. Now with Adam Henrique (groin) and Travis Zajac (ankle) on the limp, Bernier’s journey back to the NHL could be close to complete.

And what a journey it’s been. His career began promisingly in San Jose — he had 14 goals and 27 points in 39 games as a rookie — but started to decline after being traded to Buffalo…then further declined after going to Vancouver…then bottomed out completely after being traded to Florida (the Panthers let Bernier walk after his contract expired.)

Bernier was a highly touted prospect in the first round of the 2003 NHL draft. That’s noteworthy, because the first round of the 2003 draft is considered one of the best of all time — notable selections include Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf, Andrei Kostitsyn, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Brent Seabrook.

All of whom went ahead of Bernier, taken 16th overall.

Those that went after Bernier?

Nobody important…only Ryan Getzlaf (No. 19), Brent Burns (20), Ryan Kesler (23), Mike Richards (24), Brian Boyle (26) and the reigning league MVP, Corey Perry (28).