UPDATE (9:11 p.m.): Here are Liam O’Brien’s salary numbers for his entry-level deal:
2014-15: $550,000 NHL, $70,000 AHL, $55,000 signing bonus.
2015-16: $575,000 NHL, $70,000 AHL, $55,000 signing bonus.
2016-17: $575,000 NHL, $70,000 AHL, $55,000 signing bonus.
Again, the Capitals plan to put O’Brien either in the NHL or the AHL this season; according to his agent, Allan Walsh, the ECHL is off the table.
ORIGINAL POST Forward Liam O’Brien, the biggest surprise of Washington Capitals training camp, has parlayed his strong performance into a three-year, entry-level contract, the team announced Monday.
Invited this preseason as an undrafted free agent, with over-age eligibility remaining in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, O’Brien instead managed to outlast several rounds of cuts, making it increasingly likely that the Capitals keep him into the regular season.
“He’s a player that’s demanded to be noticed,” Coach Barry Trotz said, and that included several fights, four points, a team-high 20 hits and consistent fourth-line play as Washington kept throwing O’Brien into exhibition games to see if he could swim.
“There’s still lots of stuff he needs to learn in the game,” Trotz said recently. “But at the same time he’s come in with injuries to a number of people in that role. He’s got an opportunity and he’s learning. I give him a lot of credit. He’s making a big step and doing a good job for us. I’ve learned that obviously he’s fought some pretty tough guys in the preseason and he doesn’t show any fear. He needs some work, but he’s got some good pieces we can work with him.”
With forward spots at a premium and Tuesday’s cut deadline nearing, the Capitals locked O’Brien into the organization and can now send him to their AHL affiliate in Hershey.
O’Brien arrived at camp thinking he would return to the QMJHL, where he had 35 points and 147 penalty minutes over 68 games with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Instead, he endeared himself to teammates, skated in the preseason finale along with Capitals veterans and impressed enough to accelerate his ascent.
“He’s unbelievable,” forward Michael Latta said. “He’s hard on the puck. He’s fearless…He’s making a name for himself. I love him.”