Andrew Ference

Chiarelli: Oilers getting good one in ‘competitive little S.O.B’ Ference


To hear Peter Chiarelli say it, the Edmonton Oilers did well in signing Andrew Ference.

“Andy’s a competitive little S.O.B.,” Chiarelli told the Edmonton Journal of the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Ference. “He plays harder than his size.

“He’s aggressive, he’s efficient, he closes on guys really well, defends well and for his size, he’s very strong.”

The Bruins GM said the lone reason he didn’t bring back Ference this season was a cap crunch. Boston had to dedicate large sums of money to Tuukka Rask ($56 million) and Patrice Bergeron ($52 million), meaning Ference was part of the turnover that included Nathan Horton (who signed in Columbus), Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley (who were traded to Dallas).

Ference, who played out the final year of a three-year, $6.75 million deal with Boston in 2013, wasted no time in signing a four-year, $13 million deal with Edmonton when free agency opened.

He’s expected to be a mentor to the club’s younger players, most notably defensemen Justin Schultz (23 years old), Philip Larsen (also 23), Anton Belov (a 27-year-old Russian rookie) and, should they make the team, 20-year-old Oscar Klefbom (the club’s first-round pick in 2011) and 18-year-old Darnell Nurse (the No. 7 overall pick in 2013).

“[Ference will] fight, and was part of our leadership group. He was in our top four [defense] for a considerable period of time,” Chiarelli explained. “What he did was calm his partners down. He spent time with [Johnny] Boychuk and [Adam] McQuaid.

“He’d calm them down because his game is a simple game.”

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.