SACO — More roster moves highlighted the past couple of days for the Portland Pirates, who are coming off a hard-fought loss to the Manchester Monarchs on Wednesday and turn around to face the Providence Bruins on Saturday.

“It’s all so fluid early in the season,” said Brad Treliving, the Phoenix Coyotes’ vice president of hockey operations and assistant general manager, as well as the Pirates’ GM.

Friday, the Pirates signed longtime NHL forward Gilbert Brulé to a PTO (professional tryout contract), a move that will instantly add more than 270 games of NHL experience to a young roster while at the same time giving Brulé a chance to resurrect his professional career in North America.

Brulé was in training camp with the Coyotes this season but was not signed.

“The plan all along, once (Brulé) came to camp, was that he’d come here right from the get-go,” Treliving said. “He had to go back to Canada to get some things taken care of first. He’s a guy we have some history with. He’s been around a few years, but frankly he’s not that old of a guy. He’s still fairly young.”

Brulé was a first-round draft pick (sixth overall) of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005 out of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. He spent the better part of his first two years in professional hockey with the Blue Jackets before playing parts of two seasons with Syracuse and Springfield of the AHL.

A trade to the Edmonton Oilers got Brulé back into the NHL in 2008, and he had his best season there in 2009-10, recording 37 points in 65 games for the Oilers.

The Coyotes acquired Brulé in the second half of 2011-12 and he was instrumental in helping the team reach the Western Conference Final, where the Coyotes fell to eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles.

Last year, with the lockout clouding things up at the NHL level early in the year, Brulé played for Zurich of the Swiss-A league, but played in only 14 games.

“He’s obviously a very high draft pick, sixth overall, and I think he’s sort of reinvented his game a little bit,” Treliving said. “He had a good summer working out, he’s in the best shape of his life coming into training came and for us, it’s a chance to get him down here and see where he goes with it, to see where we go with it. It’s an opportunity for him, and it’s an opportunity for us as we move forward to see if there’s a chance for him to fit with us.”

Where he fits, Treliving admitted, is yet to be seen,

“He’s eager for an opportunity,” Treliving said. “He’s probably got at least as much if not more experience than our group, as we’re a really young group. But the message to him is just to come in, work hard, play, get his feet underneath him and see where he goes with it. I think the expectation level is just for him to come in and work hard and fit in and see where it goes. I think the main thing now is to get him up to speed.”

Summers time

Also Friday, the Pirates learned that defenseman Chris Summers, who was a mainstay on the blue line in 2012-13, cleared waivers and is on his way to the team from Phoenix in a move needed to clear space for returning blueliner Rostislav Klesla.

“From a roster perspective, Klesla was injured early in the preseason,” Treliving said. “And then he hadn’t played. So he was back (Thursday), we activated him from the IR, so really from a roster standpoint we had to do something.”

Speaking 15 minutes before Summers officially cleared waivers, Teliving was visibly hopeful the defender would get through.

“We’re hopeful that Chris stays with us, we really are,” he said.

A half hour later, Teliving received the good news.

The move will bolster a young Pirates blue line that before Wednesday had three players with no pro experience and another — James Melindy — with only two games in the AHL under his belt.

“It’s pretty crazy, two games played and you have the most experience of the new guys,” Melindy said. “It’s different. But (Mathieu) Brodeur and (Brandon) Gormley have been good to us with little pointers, how to prepare ourselves, how to handle ourselves around the rink come game days, and the coaching staff has been really good with us as well. They obviously know we’re a really young back end. There’s going to be a lot of work put into our defensive game, and for us, with the forward group we have, it’s getting the puck to them as quickly as possible and making the simple plays.”

Providence on deck

The Pirates will face the Bruins on Saturday in their second game of the season at 7 p.m. at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Summers is expected to be back with the team in time for the game, and Chris Brown and Lucas Lessio, who arrived from Detroit just in time for Wednesday’s opener, will have had a chance to get settled.

The Bruins will be playing their second game in as many nights after opening at home Friday against Manchester, a 3-2 winner in a shootout over the Pirates on Wednesday.

“Against a really good team, I thought we competed really hard,” Treliving said of the Pirates’ effort Wednesday. “And this is all going to be about growth. It’s necessarily about where you are in October, it’s where you are a month from now, two months from now, three months from now and beyond. We’re going to continue to get better. I like the spirit of this group. They’ll never cheat you with their work ethic, and when you do that, when the attitude is right and the work ethic is right, the improvement will come.

“It’s early, but I think it’s been much of what I expected,” Treliving added. “They’re going to work hard, the attitude is excellent, they’re going to give you everything they have. They’re going to make some mistakes, as young players do, and we’re kind of sorting through it. There’s a lot of guys playing their first games at the pro level, there are a lot of guys a year older who are playing, maybe, in a different role than they have in the past.”

Younger or older, the players know that once they’re on the ice, age is much less of a factor than it appears outwardly.

“At this point, it doesn’t really matter, everybody’s on the same playing field,” Melindy said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a younger guy or an older guy, you’re still expected to do the same things night in and night out. Being a younger guy, I have a lot to learn, but I’m just trying to be like a sponge and soak in all the stuff from the older guys and the coaches.”

The Bruins are led by Nick Johnson and Alexander Khokhlachev up front and by Joe Morrow on defense early in the season, and have a solid tandem between the pipes in top prospects Malcom Subban and Niklas Svedberg.


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