Throughout the month of May, I will be providing you all with a four-part Boston Bruins’ postseason review, grading the performances of each and every player that donned the eight-spoked “B” during the 2011-’12 campaign. The schedule looks like this:
Part II –> Bottom Six Forwards
Part III –> Defense Group
Part IV –> Extra Skaters/Call-Ups
Each day over the next week, I will update this blog with the addition of one player (in numerical order). For the bottom six, I will start with Gregory Campbell.
#11 Gregory Campbell
Contract Status: $1.100 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2012
Regular Season Stats: 78 GP, 8 Goals, 8 Assists, 16 Points, -3 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 0 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 Points, -2 Rating
– Duplicating a career season is a tremendously difficult task and one that players throughout the sports world often fall short of achieving. After falling just a goal or an assist shy of reaching the thirty-point mark (13G/16A) for the second time in his career during the 2010-’11 season, Campbell saw his offensive production sliced nearly in half this year (8G/8A). However, as anyone who has watched even a minute of Bruins’ hockey over the past few seasons would tell you, the true value of the 28-year-old London, Ontario native comes in the form of his unmatched grit and intangibles. Surpassing the century mark in the hit column and blocking over fifty shots whilst eating up valuable minutes on the penalty kill, the second-year Bruin’s contributions can not be overlooked. Slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, along with fellow bottom-six forwards Daniel Paille, Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly, Campbell will likely seek a slight raise from his last contract, which paid him $1.1 million dollars each year. In all likelihood, the Bruins will bring back just one of the two centermen with expiring deals (Campbell and Kelly). If that is the case, General Manager Peter Chiarelli will face a tough decision in determining whether Kelly’s ability to produce offense on a more consistent basis is worth the presumably hefty difference in the price tags of the two Canadian pivots.
Final Grade: B
#20 Daniel Paille
Contract Status: $1.075 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2012
Regular Season Stats: 69 GP, 9 Goals, 6 Assists, 15 Points, -5 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 1 Goal, 0 Assists, 1 Point, -1 Rating
– After struggling to find a spot in the Boston lineup for much of the 2010-’11 regular season — seeing action in only 43 of 82 games –, Paille looked to be the odd man out once again as the 2011-’12 campaign began. With former first round draft choice Jordan Caron — who plays a similar style to Paille — waiting in the wings, it seemed as though the former-Buffalo Sabre would once again become a press box regular. However, the 28-year-old left wing began the season with a strong training camp and earned his spot alongside Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton on the Boston fourth line. The Welland, Ontario native went on to enjoy another solid season for the Black and Gold, picking up nine goals and six assists, while seeing time on the B’s top penalty-killing unit. With his contract set to expire on July 1, and a pair of youngsters in Anthony Camara (3rd Round (81st Overall)/2011 Entry Draft) and Lane MacDermid (4th Round (112th Overall)/2008 Entry Draft) ready to take on a bottom-six role with the big club, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Paille pulling on a different sweater come October of 2012.
Final Grade: B-
#22 Shawn Thornton
Contract Status: $1.100 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2014
Regular Season Stats: 81 GP, 5 Goals, 8 Assists, 13 Points, -7 Rating
Playoff Stats: 5 GP, 0 Goals, 0 Assists, 0 Points, EVEN Rating
– Since arriving on the scene in the summer of 2007, Shawn Thornton has met and exceeded everything that was expected of him by fans, coaches and the Boston Bruins organization. Fresh off a Stanley Cup championship with the Anaheim Ducks, the 34-year-old veteran brought with him the type of toughness and attitude that demands respect throughout locker rooms across the league. His personality, style of play and commitment to the city of Boston have made the Oshawa, Ontario native an ice hockey staple in the Hub. The 2011-’12 campaign was nothing out of the ordinary for Thornton, chipping in with a handful of goals — the most remarkable being his back-hand roof-job against Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec on a penalty shot — while collecting over 150 penalty minutes and dropping the gloves whenever the situation called for it. After sealing a brand new two-year pact in March, Thornton will remain in Boston for at least the next two seasons, earning $2.2 million dollars over the life of the contract.
Final Grade: B
#23 Chris Kelly
Contract Status: $2.125 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2012
Regular Season Stats: 82 GP, 20 Goals, 19 Assists, 39 Points, +33 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points, +1 Rating
– General Manager Peter Chiarelli‘s prized acquisition from the 2011 trading deadline, Chris Kelly went far and above expectations in his first full season with the Black and Gold. Posting career-bests in goals, points and plus/minus during his contract season, Kelly has set himself up to sign a lucrative (and well-deserved) new deal on July 1. The hero of Boston’s game one overtime win against the Capitals in the first round of the postseason, Kelly was also one of the few Bruins’ forwards that fully lived up to his playoff expectations in 2012. While Kelly’s increased offensive production (20G/19A) in 2011-’12 came as a surprise to many, the six-foot Toronto-native once again lived up to his billing as a defensive zone stalwart, winning a number of key draws for the Bruins and posting the league’s third highest plus/minus rating (+33). Unfortunately for B’s fans, Kelly may have just played his way out of Boston. After a career year in 2011-’12, Kelly will undoubtedly be looking for significant raise on the deal that’s paid him $2.125 million dollars over the past two seasons. It will be interesting to see if Chiarelli is willing to offer Kelly the type of deal he signed fellow third-liner Rich Peverley to last fall (3 years/$3.250 MIL per).
Final Grade: A
#49 Rich Peverley
Contract Status: $3.250 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2015
Regular Season Stats: 57 GP, 11 Goals, 31 Assists, 42 Points, +20 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 5 Points, EVEN Rating
– Despite missing nearly the entire second half of the season after suffering a torn MCL, Boston’s most versatile forward was still able to surpass the 40-point mark for the second time in his career. In the absence of the concussed Nathan Horton, Peverley did an admirable job filling in on the Boston top line, and was solid in his role at center — after the Patrice Bergeron injury — during the B’s first round series with the Capitals. Peverley’s five points (3G/2A) in seven playoff games was good for first on the team as number 49 was without doubt the most consistent producer amongst the Boston forward group in the 2012 postseason. Signed to a brand-new three year contract extension (worth a total of $9.75 million dollars) in October, it is evident that the 29-year-old Ontario-native is a major part of GM Peter Chiarelli’s long-term plan for the success of the Bruins.
Final Grade: B+
#67 Benoit Pouliot
Contract Status: $1.100 MIL Cap Hit/ Restricted Free Agent On July 1, 2012
Regular Season Stats: 74 GP, 16 Goals, 16 Assists, 32 Points, +18 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points, -1 Rating
– In more ways than one, Benoit Pouliot’s first campaign in a Boston Bruins’ uniform produced eerily similar results to what the B’s came to expect from the man no. 67 replaced: Michael Ryder. In two of his three seasons with the Black and Gold, Ryder hovered around the 30-40 point mark — which is right where Pouliot fell in 2011-’12 — while leaving B’s fans frustrated at his streaky tendencies. At times this season, Pouliot showcased the type of top-line skills that made him the fourth overall selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. However, there were also periods in which the Alfred, Ontario native seemed to resort to the type of on-ice behavior that saw him banished to former head coach Jacques Martin‘s doghouse during his time with the Montreal Canadiens. Coming to the Hub by way of a one-year, $1.1 million dollar contract, Pouliot was the epitome of a low risk/high reward-type off-season signing by general manager Peter Chiarelli. Picking up 32-points (16G/16A) in 74 games this season, Pouliot more than earned his salary, but never truly found the type of consistency that Chiarelli and the Bruins had hoped to see from the former Sudbury Wolf.
Final Grade: B-
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.