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Christian Ehrhoff impressed Bruins at World Cup

Coach Claude Julien says defenseman's puck-moving ability led to tryout contract

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BOSTON -- Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff provided Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien with an up-close look at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

Julien, an assistant coach for Team Canada, coached against Ehrhoff and Team Europe in the World Cup final. The 34-year-old, playing without an NHL contract in the tournament, had three assists in six games before signing a professional tryout contract with the Bruins on Friday.

Ehrhoff, a native of Germany who has played 12 NHL seasons, practiced with the Bruins for the first time at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday.

"First of all, [Ehrhoff] had a good tournament at the World Cup," Julien said. "He was really good for Team Europe. He's always been a guy that's skated well, moved the puck well and been a good heads-up kind of player. And the way he competed in the World Cup is what probably got our attention and mine probably from a closer look, I guess. I thought he competed really well. We're looking for guys that can move the puck, that can get us back on the attack quickly and stuff like that. So he wanted a tryout with us and I was very open and the organization was very open in giving him that."

The Bruins also liked the left-handed Ehrhoff's ability to play either the side on defense. Even with Boston having seven experienced defensemen each on a one-way contract and prospects competing for jobs entering the final week of training camp, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney still saw a need to add depth and experience.

Ehrhoff had two goals and 10 assists in 48 regular-season games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season. He averaged 15:29 of ice time, his fewest minutes per game since his rookie season (15:23) in 2003-04.

"I think in L.A., the fit for me just wasn't there," Ehrhoff said. "Then it kind of went downhill for me. I lost my confidence. And at the end of the season I went to the World Championships and had a good tournament there. And now with the World Cup, I think my confidence is back up again. That's why I think it will be a better year for me again."

Ehrhoff has played some heated games against the Bruins in the past. Most notably when Boston defeated Ehrhoff and the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. But Ehrhoff said he's never had any trouble fitting into a new dressing room regardless of his history with new teammates.

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, a fellow member of Team Europe at the World Cup, was impressed by Ehrhoff's play.

"He's a great player," Chara said. "He played really well at the tournament and I think he's an experienced player and obviously he's motivated to make the team and play well. So it's going to be obviously great competition for the jobs and we all have to prove ourselves."

Ehrhoff, who has played for six teams in his NHL career, said he was a little surprised he was unable to get a contract as a free agent over the summer. But he's grateful for the chance he's received from Boston and isn't concerned with the lack of security.

"It's not a big deal right now," Ehrhoff said. "I'm just going to go out there and do my best and then it's all going to be taken care of at some point."

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