"It’s nice to have a contract, but I’m looking at it like any other year," O'Brien told the Ottawa Citizen. "I have a lot to prove to myself and my teammates."
O'Brien split the 2011-12 season between Ottawa and the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. After scoring seven goals and adding seven assists for 14 points in 27 games at Binghamton, he was called up by the Senators on Feb. 3. O'Brien scored three times and added three assists for six points in 28 games. He scored his first NHL goal in Ottawa's 6-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 15.
The 23-year-old also played in each of the seven playoff games of Ottawa's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers. His lone point was an assist on Kyle Turris' game-winning goal in overtime of Game 4 on April 18.
"He showed the rest of our young guys in the organization that if you work had and you’re a good citizen and do what we ask you to do in Binghamton, we will certainly call you up and give you a chance," assistant general manager Tim Murray told the newspaper.
The native of Maplewood, Minn., was Ottawa's first-round pick (No. 29) in the 2007 NHL Draft, He has six points in 34 NHL games and 78 points in 183 games at the AHL level, where he helped Binghamton win the 2011 Calder Cup.
The Senators also announced they have signed defenseman Eric Gryba to a two-year, two-way contract.
Gryba, 24, spent last season with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. He established career highs in goals (five), assists (15) and games (73), and recorded 98 penalty minutes.
"He made big strides last year ... so we just expect him to get better and better," Murray told the newspaper. "I believe he can come to training camp and compete for a job at the (NHL)."