BostonBruins.com — On Thursday afternoon, the Bruins bolstered their defensive depth by signing blueliner Chris Breen to a one-year, two-way contract with a cap hit of $600,000, General Manager Don Sweeney announced.
Bruins Executive Director of Player Personnel John Ferguson has been tracking Breen’s game for a long time — in fact, ever since Breen was skating with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL back in 2009.
Even back then, Ferguson could see something special in Breen, and he continues to see it to this day.
“He gives us some real strong organizational depth — size and strength on the blue line,” Ferguson said. “He’s a real character leader for that team down in Providence, and he’s a guy that can really give us depth and can come up and play games.”
The signing comes on the heels of several notable moves that were made by the Bruins on Wednesday, including the signing of free agent forward Matt Beleskey, the acquisition of Jimmy Hayes and the re-signing of 23-year-old forward Ryan Spooner and AHL goaltender Jeremy Smith.
The 2014-15 season marked Breen’s first with the Bruins organization, and in 52 games, he registered two goals and eight assists for 10 points with a plus-8 rating. Though he has not yet seen any NHL action with Boston, he does have nine games of NHL experience under his belt, all with Calgary.
Prior to signing with Boston as a free agent in July 2014, Breen had spent the entirety of his professional career with the Flames organization, skating in a total of 245 AHL games from 2009-2014.
Bruins fans got a first-hand look at Providence’s defensive depth last season, when the likes of Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow spent considerable time with the big club. Still, among a stocked talent pool, Breen managed to set himself apart, and ultimately, the 26-year-old Ontario native did enough to convince Sweeney and the Bruins management group that he was worth another shot.
Primarily, Ferguson points to his size and his strength as his most significant attributes, both of which were on full display during Providence’s first-round playoff series against Hartford in April.
“He’s still getting better as a pro,” Ferguson said. “He played very strong for us last year in the playoffs in the first round against Hartford, against a team that was heavy up front. His size and strength on the blueline allowed our goaltender to see the puck, clear the puck, and we like that level of size, bite and ability.”
Heading into next season, the P-Bruins will be similarly stocked with talent. Plenty of it will be on display when training camp kicks off in September. If they impress, some of those P-Bruins could end up in Boston — to start the season, or at any stage throughout.
Breen could be one of those players. He could also be one of the players who assumes a bigger role with the P-Bruins and helps to anchor their blueline.
The opportunity is his, and ultimately, he must take advantage.
“He’s absolutely part of the group that is going to provide depth for the Bruins,” Ferguson said. “In that style of defenseman, there’s not a lot of that down there [in Providence], but him and Tommy Cross really give us some good veteran leadership if they’re down; I would suspect at least one of them will be down if not both. That will be up to them to figure out part of that.
“We like to say the players will make those decisions at training camp, but they’re both very capable, and we’re happy to have them back.
“I know he’s very familiar with the organization, the structure, our coaching staff, and he wanted to come back, and we’re happy to have him.”