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.”