VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -The Vancouver Canucks retained forward Steve Bernier on Tuesday by quickly matching the one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet the young forward signed with the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues tried to pluck the 23-year-old restricted free agent away just four days after the Canucks acquired him in a trade with Buffalo. Vancouver had seven days to either match or accept a second-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft from St. Louis - less than the third-round pick in 2009 and second-round pick in 2010 they sent to the Sabres to acquire him on July 4.
``Steve is a highly regarded young offensive player in our league, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said in a statement. ``We have a great deal of respect for the St. Louis Blues, John Davidson, Larry Pleau and their management team. The offer sheet to Bernier is a clear indication of how highly Steve is thought of in our league.''
The Blues' offer to Bernier comes a week after the Canucks signed St. Louis forward David Backes to a three-year, $7.5 million offer sheet. St. Louis, which had rebuffed Vancouver's earlier attempts to trade for Backes, quickly matched the offer for the 24-year-old.
Gillis said at the time that he wasn't worried about making enemies with offer sheets.
``From what I can tell professionalism is more important than friendship, Gillis, who is just over two months into the job after working as an agent, said on July 1. ``Other teams have made offers. It's in the rules. We're trying to be aggressive to get the best team here we can possibly get.''
Bernier, who averaged 15 goals his first three NHL seasons, split last year between San Jose and Buffalo, combining for 16 goals and 32 points in 76 games.
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