On Sunday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli stated that he didn't intend to bring any veterans into camp as tryouts beyond AHL journeyman defenseman Joe Rullier.
"We've got Joe Rillier on a tryout, and right now, beyond that, I think that's it," said Chiarelli after the first day of rookie camp. "I wouldn't anticipate any [other tryouts]. If you're talking about the next three to four days, probably not."
That last comment left the door open just a bit, and longtime NHL enforcer Brian McGrattan has bulled his way through. The veteran tough guy, who turned 29 on Sept. 2, will be in camp with the Bruins on a tryout basis when the main camp opens on Friday.
McGrattan brings a strong physical presence to the game. He weighs in at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, a legit heavyweight who could counter some of the big-time brawlers added to the Eastern Conference this summer. The Rangers signed mammoth Derek Boogaard (6-foot-8, 257 pounds) and Philadelphia added Jody Shelley (6-foot-3, 230 pounds), while Washington traded for D.J. King (6-foot-3, 230 pounds). They join a conference that already boasts Colton Orr (6-foot-3, 22 pounds) in Toronto, Matt Carkner (6-foot-4, 231 pounds) in Ottawa and Eric Godard (6-foot-4, 214 pounds) in Pittsburgh.
All of those heavyweights could be tough for Shawn Thornton, generously listed at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds, to handle on his own. If McGrattan can earn a spot as a spare forward, it could give the Bruins an option to counter those tough guys and possibly prevent some liberties from being taken with the club's skill players.
Thornton was left on his own to handle most of the rough stuff last year, collecting 21 of the Bruins' 47 fighting majors as Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara were limited by injuries much of the season. Those aren't the type of players the Bruins would want to have risking injury or sharing time in the penalty box with fourth-line heavyweights anyway, so some help for Thornton, who was re-signed to a two-year deal with an $812,500 cap hit this summer, could prove valuable.
McGrattan might still be a long shot to make the Boston squad. He played just 34 games last year in Calgary, posting 1-3-4 totals. He was a plus-3 with 86 penalty minutes and 15 fighting majors while averaging just 3:26 of ice time a game. For his career, he's played in 182 NHL games, with 3-11-14 totals, an even plus-minus, 395 PIMs and 53 fighting majors.
He came up through the Ottawa organization when Chiarelli was the Senators' assistant GM. He was signed in 2003, and after setting an AHL record with 551 penalty minutes (39 fighting majors) in 71 games with Binghamton in 2004-05, McGrattan made it up to the big club in Ottawa for three seasons from 2005-08.
His best year was in 2005-06, when he set career highs across the board with 60 games, 2-3-5 totals, 141 PIMs and 19 fighting majors. McGrattan has suffered a series of shoulder injuries in recent years and also entered the league's substance abuse program during the 2008-09 season.
Those factors limited him to just five games with Phoenix that season, but after offseason surgery prior to last year, his shoulder held up to the rigors of his job last season in Calgary.
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