USA/Today is reporting that defenseman Bryan Berard will sign an NHL tryout contract next week to begin a comeback story that seemed like an impossibility after he suffered a horrendous eye injury in March 2000.
Berard, 24, is expected to sign with the New York Rangers, although as of Friday evening a few other teams were still making bids to land the former No. 1 draft pick. Word was that the Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Atlanta Thrashers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues had all made overtures.
The official announcement will come early next week, after Berard completes negotiations with insurance companies that paid him $6.5 million because doctors concluded that the damage to his right eye constituted a career-ending injury. Berard was playing for the Maple Leafs when he was struck in the eye by Marian Hossa's stick as Hossa followed through on a shot. The damage was extensive enough that surgeons pondered removing the eye that night.
The injury was considered career-ending because Berard couldn't meet the minimum vision standard required by the NHL.
Berard decided to launch a comeback because he believes he has adjusted well to the virtual blindness in his right eye.
Around the league
Jeff Farkas (Nichols) had a goal and two assists to lead the Maple Leafs past the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2. They were Farkas' first points of the preseason.
The Ottawa Senators re-signed captain Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year, $3 million deal.
Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff agreed to a one-year contract extension with the San Jose Sharks.