Season Review: Although he wasn’t the first option on the Ottawa Senators roster, defenseman Eric Gryba got his opportunity and made the most of it by becoming a mainstay in the Senators lineup ahead of some more highly touted players. Gryba had a good season in Binghamton during the lockout. He has 5 goals and 6 assist to go with a team high +28 rating and 75 PIMs in 38 games. He was a big part of the Bingo blue line that has the team near the top of the AHL eastern conference for most of the season. After seeing Mark Borowiecki getting a shot before he did, Gryba finally got summoned mid-February after Erik Karlsson‘s injury. Gryba’s debut was a game to forget, as he was -2 in a 3-0 loss to Toronto, but he did settle down and become a physical force and solid defender. Views were very split on his effectiveness, while some appreciated what he brought to the game in situations he probably wasn’t ready for, while others were very negative about his play. He played on an everyday basis throughout his call-up, and remained there at the expense of some more offensive players. He ended up with 2 goals and 4 assists in 33 games played and a -3 rating.
Playoffs: Gryba made his presence felt early on, setting the tone for the first round series against Montreal with a huge open ice hit on Lars Eller that was widely debated as to the legality of the hit. Gryba was assessed a 2 game suspension, largely based on the fact that Eller had to be stretchered off the ice with his face a bloody mess. Ottawa went on to win the game, and the series in 5 games. Gryba’s playoffs came to an early end in the first game of round 2, suffering an upper body injury in a collision with Penguins defender Brooks Orpik.
Contract Status: Gryba has one year left on a 2 year deal that will pay him $600K with a cap hit of $562,500.
Importance to Franchise: Heading into the season, he would have been considered a depth defenseman and was in fact the 10th option. However, it will be interesting to see where Paul MacLean thinks he fits in on the new season, having seemingly put him ahead of the likes of Patrick Wiercioch and Andre Benoit on the depth chart and using him in the playoffs ahead of those players.
Needs To Improve: Gryba isn’t blessed with great speed, but he is a physical presence who can chip in a little offensively. He needs to learn his positioning a little better in his own end to make his defensice
Grade: B+…I don’t think anyone would have expected Gryba to get much of a shot this season, let alone play 3/4 of the games and all the playoff games he was available for. It was a good debut and he exceeded expectations.