Name: Andrew Ference
Status: $1.4M cap-hit — re-signed a three-year extension worth $6.75M; $2.25M per season
Regular season, EV: 25.83% w/Mark Stuart
Regular season, EV: 23.10% w/Dennis Wideman
Playoffs, EV: 42.96% w/Adam McQuaid
Playoffs: 17.50% w/Wideman
When healthy, Ference is a very good top-5 blueliner. Short in stature but not in heart or fortitude, No. 21 plays a much bigger and physical game than expected, and is a solid stay-at-home defenseman. Ference possesses valuable leadership qualities, overall, both on and off the ice.
Although a non-factor in scoring — and his inability to remain healthy — Ference returned to the lineup earlier than expected when Stuart went down-and-out with an infection in his finger. The 5’11” blue-liner meustered up the strength to step-in when desperately called upon, and served as the No. 5 defenseman with AHL call-up McQuaid.
A little more offense wouldn’t hurt. Then again, he’s never been known as an offensive defenseman. Ference posted 0-8-8 totals, a minus-7 — tied for the team’s worst (behind Byron Bitz’s minus-9 — and 60 shots on goal in 51 games played. The Edmonton, AB, Canada native averaged 19:42 of average ice time throughout the regular season, and suffered his second groin injury in as many years.
The 31-year-old oft-injured defenseman has averaged just 52 games per year in the last three seasons in Boston, while posting a mere 2-27-39 scoring totals over that span.
Some negativity could be pointed in Ference’s direction; or it could also be pointed to his fellow blue-liners. Wideman had a sub-par season, to say the least; Stuart was injured on three separate occasions; McQuaid is the No. 7/8 rookie defenseman.
Don’t let the injuries take away from what Ference brings to the Bruins’ team when he is on the ice. Don’t let Peter Chiarelli’s over-payment/outrageous raise in contract for the injury-prone defenseman hinder his overall performance either. And more importantly, don’t overlook the positive attributes he brings to the locker room, organization and the community, whether he’s injured or not.
And once Claude Julien keeps Ference’s TOI down to a true 5/6 defenseman (14-17 minute range) the 31-year-old should wear-and-tear less often, and remain in the lineup more.
Next report card: No. 22 Shawn Thornton