2004-05: The Czech forward came over to North America to play with the OHL’s Barrie Colts. He struggled initially, scoring only four times in 28 games, and ended up being traded to Saginaw partway through the season. With the Spirit, he rediscovered his offensive touch, posting 28 points in 31 contests.
2005-06: Birner’s final season of junior was a scoring success. He ranked second on the Saginaw Spirit with 85 points, a total far surpassing the previous year’s total. Birner received time on both the power play and penalty kill, and also represented the Czech Republic at the World Juniors.
2006-07: Birner spent his first pro season with Peoria in the AHL. He suffered a wrist injury early in the season, causing him to sit out over a month. Once he returned, he didn’t produce as well as he would have liked, but over the last half of the season he became more consistent and the points started to come. He ended the year with 28 points, which led all Rivermen rookies.
Birner is a good skater, and has the ability to stickhandle in traffic. He is sometimes guilty of playing too much on the perimeter, but his quickness enables him get to the net or open scoring areas in a hurry. His shooting skills are adequate, and he is considered a smart passer. Birner must continue to elevate his awareness when he doesn’t have the puck.