OTTAWA - The records show that big Eric Gryba fought only three times in 2011-12, down from the 13 scraps he had as a rookie in Binghamton the previous season.
But the Senators also believe that he improved significantly as a player, which is why they re-signed him Wednesday with the expectations that he can soon battle for a spot on their blue line.
Gryba, the team’s third-round pick (68th overall) in 2006, was inked to a two-year, two-way deal and reaffirmed as a future candidate for a role in Ottawa by assistant GM Tim Murray.
“He made big strides last year,” Murray said of the 6-foot-3, 214-pound native of Saskatoon. “I thought last year, the second half of the year, on some nights he was our best defenceman in Binghamton. Huge improvement over his rookie season, so we just expect him to get better and better.
“I think the two years gives us the opportunity to work with him some more. I believe he can come to training camp and compete for a job at the NHL level. If he doesn’t make it right out of camp, we expect him to go to Binghamton and be a leader, play hard and at least be a depth guy until he achieves his goal of becoming a full-time NHL player.”
Two seasons ago as a rookie in Binghamton, Gryba had three goals and four assists and 133 PIMs in 66 games, then bumped most of his numbers to five goals and 15 assists, and 95 PIMs in 73 games last season.