Photo:OHL Images/Aaron Bell
Earlier today, the Montreal Canadiens announced the signing of the free agent left winger, native of Burgdorf Switzerland, Alain Berger, currently playing with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. The Habs signed the 20 year old forward to a three year contract (2011-12 to 2013-14) and as per the club policy, the terms of the contract were not made public.
The 6'4, 205 lbs forward is currently playing his second season with the Oshawa Generals and was originally drafted by the Generals in the 1st round of the 2009 CHL Import Draft (27th overall). In 109 regular season games since being drafted, Berger has accumulated 48 goals and 37 assists for 85 points. Ranked 87th in the OHL scoring ladder this season, Berger recorded 29 goals and 23 passes in 65 matches, along with a +19 and 86 penalty minutes. Notably out of his 29 goals, 14 were scored on the powerplay. With his team in the second round of the OHL Playoffs, Berger has managed to register 5 points (4G-1A) in 7 games so far.
Berger has also played with Bern of the Swiss National League A and with the Neuchatel Young-Sprinters of the Swiss National League B, in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Berger expressed his excitement at being part of the organization but said he will hold off on the celebration because of his current team's pending playoff games against the Niagara Ice Dogs. He also appreciated the fact that the Habs were big in Switzerland because of ex-Hab Mark Streit and Yannick Weber.
By adding Berger, the Habs have added much needed size in their offensive arsenal and some depth in their prospects list. Brock Otten, an amateur OHL scout has some good things about Berger in his OHL prospects blog. Most notably, Otten praised Berger's abilities to play hard and his dangerous presence in front of the net that played a big factor in his powerplay success with the Generals this season. Otten's most recent blog entry ended with these lines:
"He's 6'4, 200 lbs and does a lot of his damage in front of the net (call him the Swiss Tomas Holmstrom). But he's also got an excellent wrist shot and has potential as a goal scorer at the next level. He works hard at both ends of the ice, throws his weight around and is a leader for his teammates (wearing an A for Oshawa this year). He's already got 4 goals in 2 playoff games this year. Someone needs to give this guy a contract."
Looks like the Habs did just that Brock.
Berger seems to be a gritty forward and if developed properly, he may have the potential to become a power forward, the type of players the Habs lack in their prospect list.