Tuesday, August 14, 2007

O'Brien Inks Entry Level Contract




Though rumours have been floating for a good week, Senators GM Bryan Murray made the signing of his first draft pick official on Monday, inking 2007 29th overall draft pick Jim O'Brien to a 3-year entry level contract. The signing is something of an oddity, in that O'Brien is far from NHL-ready. He will be forgoing NCAA eligibility and is expect to join the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.

The reasoning for the young centre's departure from the University of Minnesota is unclear. It was suggested around the time of his drafting that O'Brien might be splitting time at centre and defense for the 07-08 Golden Gophers; it had been more recently insinuated by the Gophers coach Don Lucia that O'Brien would essentially be converted to defense. Some reports insinuate that O'Brien requested the move himself, though his departure seems to indicate otherwise. In commenting on the signing, Murray expressed his concern at the lack of ice time O'Brien was slated to receiving in Minnesota, and confirmed that he would receive further opportunity to develop his offensive game in Seattle. The Senators seemingly drafted O'Brien with the intent that he would end up a centreman, however it was known at the time that he was capable of playing two positions and would likely be used in both positions next season, much like Senators everyman Christoph Schubert was used over the 06-07 NHL season.

O'Brien was the youngest player in the NCAA last season, and at 18 years of age is essentially one year ahead of development.

O'Brien will be attending the Senators training camp in September after having sat on the sidelines at the development camp in July as he rehabilitated from off-season surgery. He is not expected to make the NHL team, with an all-but-full roster already set in Ottawa and a recently replenished Binghamton squad.

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