Rangers’ exciting forward prospect adds new skillset to his game during Development Camp

Brett Berard takes part in the Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training facility in Tarrytown July 12, 2022.
Credit: Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Rangers have officially concluded their 2024 development camp. Numerous top prospects hit the ice to work on progressing their skills, including 2020 fifth-round draft pick Brett Berard.

Since being drafted, Berard has developed nicely. He spent three seasons with Providence College before going pro for the first time last season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, where he now has a new skill set to display on the ice.

Berard discusses the importance of his defensive game following 2024 Rangers Development Camp

Brett Berard takes part in the Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training facility in Tarrytown July 12, 2022.
Brett Berard takes part in the Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training facility in Tarrytown July 12, 2022.
Credit: Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Berard is mostly known for his elite scoring ability. He led the Wolf Pack in goals last season with 25 and finished third on the team in points with 48. He averaged .68 points per game in his first season of professional hockey, proving that his offensive abilities are progressing nicely.

While Berard had a dominant offensive performance last season, his defensive game showed the opposite results. He earned a -23 rating through 71 games played — second worst on the Hartford roster ahead of only Brennan Othmann. Berard has a lot of defensive work to complete before being ready for the NHL, but it’s something he is already working on.

“A big overall part of my game is just the defensive side. It’s always something I’m trying to get better at. This year, I got better at it. I started playing on the [penalty kill], which was new for me. As the year went on, it felt more and more comfortable. From a game standpoint, that’s something I’m still trying to work on.”

Brett Berard via NHL.com

The Rangers are in need of forwards who possess elite defensive skills as well. Last season was the first time that Berard finished with a negative +/- since his Freshman year at Providence, which gives hope that he can regain his defensive strides after adjusting to professional hockey.

Seeing that Berard is aware of this issue and continuously working on it is a great sign. At 21 years old, he has plenty of time before he might join the Rangers. This is a problem that could be easily fixed by working with the Rangers’ development team, and it seems Berard has the right mindset to make it happen.

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