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O'Brien eager for next career step

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
After spending the last two seasons in junior hockey, Senators prospect centre Jim O'Brien will make the jump to the pro ranks this fall (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Jim O’Brien is ready to take the next step in his still-young hockey career.

With two years of junior hockey now behind him, the Ottawa Senators’ top pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft is enthused about making the move into the pro ranks this fall.

“I’m really excited about it,” said O’Brien, who is likely headed to the American Hockey League’s Binghamton Senators. “It should be a lot of fun and I’ve been working hard this summer to hopefully make the transition easier for myself.”

O’Brien, a 6-foot-2, 196-pound centre, spent the last two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League, where he totalled 62 points (including 27 goals) in 2008-09. He knows the jump to the AHL isn’t a small one.

“It’s just (playing against) older people,” he said. “They’re smarter about how they play and they’re quicker and more powerful. Right now, I’m just trying to get quicker and get stronger at the same time.”

This week’s Senators development camp will be helpful in that area.

“(The camp) teaches you a lot,” said O’Brien, one of 32 Senators prospects in Ottawa this week. “You come to the rink and you work on so many different areas. You see which areas you need to work on more than others. We do some yoga, we’ll do power skating and we’ll lift. You get a good idea of what you need to work on heading into your (next) season.”

"It's just (playing against) older people. They're smarter about how they play and they're quicker and more powerful. Right now, I'm just trying to get quicker and get stronger at the same time." - Jim O'Brien
O’Brien hopes to use that as a springboard for the rest of his off-season training.

“The plan is to go to (this) camp and see what I really need to work on and what management thinks I need to work on,” he said. “I’ll go home and work on it in July and August, then be back for (Senators training) camp in September.”

While O’Brien will take his best shot at landing a job with the big club, he’ll happily head to Binghamton if that’s what Senators management wants.

“I’m just going to go out there and try my best and whatever they think is best for me, I’ll end up doing and it’ll be good for me,” he said. “I’m just really excited to take that next step in my career and get to play pro hockey. It’s a really exciting thing.”

Condra inks first Senators contract

Right-winger Erik Condra, who is participating in his fourth Senators development camp this week. signed an entry-level deal with the team today. Condra, Ottawa's seventh-round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, recently completed his fourth season of U.S. college hockey with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Condra, the Irish captain, led the team with 38 points (13-25) in 2008-09 and averaged nearly a point a game throughout his four years at the school, scoring 158 points in 159 games. He is 13th on Notre Dame's all-time scoring list (158) and seventh in assists (110).

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