Does O’Brien measure up for a full-time job?

Before Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray decides to acquire another forward in the days leading up to the trade deadline, he’s going to have to decide what he thinks of Jim O’Brien’s audition.
If Murray thinks the 23-year-old O’Brien can permanently handle the job of being a third- or fourth-line forward, the need to acquire another forward, for depth, will be less pressing (not to mention cheaper, since O’Brien carries a salary-cap hit of just $816,667).
However, if Murray doesn’t, then he’ll likely have to make a move, for two reasons.
First, because it doesn’t appear as if Jesse Winchester, who has now missed 28 games and two months with a concussion, will be back any time soon.
And second, because Zenon Konopka doesn’t bring much more than the ability to get into staged fights and take penalties.
He was scratched for the sixth straight game against the Capitals. If history is any indication, players like Konopka rarely hit the ice during the playoffs.
So far, which is a good sign, coach Paul MacLean has no complaints about O’Brien.
He’s a right-handed face-off guy who works real hard,” he said.
“He knows how to get around the rink and he does what we ask him to do.”
Asked whether this is O’Brien’s chance to turn a part-time job into a full-time NHL gig, MacLean stickhandled a bit, though not without lauding O’Brien’s work.
“Well, I think it’s his chance to play,” said MacLean.
“He’s come up and with the injury to Jesse Winchester we felt there was the need for that person and he was the obvious choice and to this point he’s done a good job.
“Now what that turns into we’ll find out at the end of the year and into the future. But to this point in time, he’s done a real good job for us.”
O’Brien said it’s a bit unsettling not knowing how long he’s going to be here, and it brings added pressure, but he’s trying not to think about.
“I’m just going out there and treating every game as a tryout,” he said Wednesday morning.
“For me it’s just day-to-day, so I have to keep showing up, working hard, and playing good. Good things usually happen when you do that.”

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