The Boston Bruins continued their busy off season signing a depth defenseman in Matt Irwin. Irwin was an undrafted free agent out of UMass Amherst when he signed with the San Jose Sharks, where he has spent the last six years.
Irwin has spent a lot of time in the minor leagues with just 153 career NHL games in San Jose. He likely will spend a good chunk of his playing with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League this year, though he should get some action with the Bruins if they don’t improve their defense further.
Irwin saw ample times in the NHL last year with 53 games played. He scored eight goals in those games, a rather impressive feat for a defenseman without manby minutes of ice time. He was second in points among San Jose defenseman.
The deal Irwin signed with the Bruins is for one year and at $800,000. He’s been prevented from playing in many ways, including in the lock out season of 2013 when he performed well. In 2013-2014 he played well, racking up 20 points, but injuries hurt him this past year. His performance slipped at times due to injury, and he was left as a healthy scratch often.
The Bruins are attempting to put a band aid on the hole left by the Dougie Hamilton trade. They retained Adam McQuaid, who himself has suffered injury, and Irwin won’t exactly fix the defense. They have several capable puck movers, including Torey Krug, but what they really need is a solid defensive defenseman.
Irwin won’t be that, but he should be ample depth and could even be the seventh defenseman if they find it not worth it to send him to Providence. He could probably compete with Kevan Miller for a chance at the roster as well.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson let him walk despite his low salary, so they couldn’t have been too concerned about him. The move shouldn’t prevent the Bruins from targeting a higher profile defenseman such as Cody Franson on the market.
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