Gregory Campbell Brings Penalty Kill Experience, Physical Edge to Bruins This Season

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Gregory Campbell Brings Penalty Kill Experience, Physical Edge to Bruins This Season When the Bruins made their biggest move of the offseason with a June trade with Florida, most of the attention naturally focused on Nathan Horton.

Acquiring a veteran top-line talent will generate that kind of response, and the Bruins took full advantage of the excitement by flying Horton in to meet the media at the Garden and having him toss the first pitch at Fenway alongside prized draft pick Tyler Seguin.

Gregory Campbell was a part of that same deal, but his addition wasn't greeted with any such fanfare.

"I'm sure there's not a lot of people in Boston familiar with me," said Campbell after the trade. "I'm going to have things to prove to the coaching staff and management as well."

Campbell isn't under any illusions. The six-year veteran doesn't expect to put up the offensive numbers Horton is capable of producing, but he does hope to make a positive impact on the Bruins.  

"Obviously I'm not known as a guy that gets a lot of points, but I think to be a well-rounded player you have to chip in in all areas," said Campbell. "Being hard to play against is something I like to think that I do. I like to do all the little things that help a team win and hopefully I can bring that to Boston and play a role in helping them win."

What "little things" will Campbell bring?

Campbell, 26, is slated to take over as the club's fourth-line center, skating between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. He'll also see plenty of time on the penalty kill, a role he excelled in while playing for the Panthers.

Last year, he led all Florida forwards in short-handed ice-time with 2:26 a game. That's nearly a half minute more than Paille, who led Boston forwards at 1:59. And Campbell has long been a workhorse on the PK, averaging 2:28 in 2008-09 when the Panthers were ranked ninth in the league on the penalty kill, 2:35 in 2007-08 and 2:38 in 2006-07.

Campbell also brings a feisty edge to his game, playing a very physical style that should endear him quickly to Boston fans. He led the Panthers in hits in each of the last three seasons, piling up 156 in 2007-08, 202 in 2008-09 and 158 last year despite missing 22 games due to head and foot injuries.

He's also more than willing to stick up for his teammates, even if his success with the gloves off has been limited to say the least. He's had 26 career fights in the NHL, and according to the voting at hockeyfights.com, he owns a 1-18-7 record in those bouts. Even if those results are accurate, it shows the kind of character the 6-foot, 199-pounder possesses to continually put himself in harm's way in such situations for the betterment of the team.

Those characteristics are revealed by his blocked shot totals as well, as he led Florida forwards with 72 last year and 82 in 2008-09. By comparison, Patrice Bergeron led Boston's forwards with just 45 blocked shots last season.

Campbell isn't likely to put up huge point totals, but he can play a regular shift and chip in the odd goal. He managed just 2-15-17 totals in 60 games last year, but did put up career highs with a 13-19-32 line the year before.

Since his junior days in the OHL, the left-handed shooting Campbell has split time fairly evenly between center and wing, mostly on the left side, but with some time on the right as well. He was playing primarily as a winger last year, but his breakthrough season in 2008-09 came when he was at center. A move back to the middle this season could help him get back closer to that level of production.
 
"I'm definitely comfortable in both positions," said Campbell. "I think that holds more value when you can play both. When I kill penalties I often take draws. For me it doesn't really matter. Wherever I'm needed, wherever the coaching staff wants me to play at it's something I will have to adjust to."

Campbell is an experienced face-off man, though he won just 46.3 percent of his draws last year (158-183). He was more effective when taking face-offs regular as a center, finishing 509-509 (50.0 percent) in 2008-09 and 235-225 (51.1 percent) in 2007-08.

"He's a very versatile player," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli after avoiding arbitration by signing Campbell to a two-year deal with a $1.1 million annual cap hit. "He blocks a lot of shots, takes a lot of face-offs, logs some good minutes. With Gregory, it's versatility and it's grit [that he brings to the lineup] and he's another guy that can play up and down the lineup."

One thing Campbell doesn't bring is any NHL playoff experience, as the Panthers failed to qualify for the postseason in each of his six seasons in Florida. That's one glaring hole on his resume that he hopes to fill this season in Boston.

"There's always mixed feelings in a trade," said Campbell. "I had a great time in Florida, but I'm really excited to be part of the Boston organization. It's a great team. Unfortunately I haven't played in the NHL playoffs yet, so I'm looking forward to doing that with the Bruins and being on a winning team.

"It's not fun ending your season in April," added Campbell.

NESN.com will answer one Bruins question every day in August.

Saturday, Aug. 21: Can Andrew Ference make it through a full season healthy and what does his presence mean for the defense?

Monday, Aug. 23: Is Adam McQuaid ready for a full-time role in the NHL?

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