Editor's Note: NESN.com Bruins beat writer Douglas Flynn will be taking an in-depth look at one Bruins player each day, analyzing that player's performance last season and outlook heading into the 2011-12 campaign.
Over the course of his first season in Boston, Gregory Campbell went from being perceived as a throw-in to the Nathan Horton trade to one of the Bruins' most valuable role players. He was a constant on Boston's highly effective fourth line and a key contributor on the penalty kill, supplying the Bruins with toughness and some timely scoring.
2010-11 stats: 80 games, 13-16-29, plus-11, 93 PIMs
Playoffs: 25 games, 1-3-4, minus-2, 4 PIMs
Contract status: Signed through 2011-12, $1.1 million cap hit
Preseason expectations: Campbell flew under the radar a bit upon his arrival, as Horton drew the bulk of the attention in Boston's biggest offseason deal last summer. But the Bruins didn't overlook what Campbell could add when they acquired him with the hopes of ending the revolving door at the fourth-line center spot. Campbell was expected to fill that void and contribute to the penalty kill, while being capable of moving up the depth chart if needed.
Regular-season evaluation: Campbell delivered everything the Bruins wanted, providing leadership, grit and stability on the fourth line and penalty kill. But he also gave them a lot more than anyone could have expected. He matched a career high with 13 goals and added 16 assists. He also shattered his previous career high of seven fights with 11 fighting majors, in the process joining linemate Shawn Thornton as the first Bruins teammates since Cam Neely and Nevin Markwart in 1986-87 to each reach double figures in both goals and fights in the same season.
Campbell's 93 penalty minutes were also a career high, while his 119 hits were fifth on the team. He also contributed 52 blocked shots and his 13:26 average ice time reflected not only Claude Julien's trust in that fourth line, but also Campbell's extensive role on special teams, where he chipped in a goal and three assists while shorthanded. Campbell is far from an intimidating heavyweight as a fighter, but his willingness to stand up for his teammates whenever necessary is a testament to his character and underscores the kind of value he adds to the lineup that can't always be seen in statistics.
Playoff evaluation: Campbell had spent his entire seven-year professional career in the Panthers' system without ever reaching the postseason in either the AHL or NHL. He did win a Memorial Cup in juniors, but hadn't felt the intensity of playoff action in the pro ranks until this spring. It was worth the wait, as his first postseason resulted in a Stanley Cup. While Campbell's contributions in the playoffs weren't nearly as dramatic as they were in the regular season, he remained a key leader on and off the ice and a vocal presence exhorting his teammates at every opportunity even as his own ice time decreased to 10:59 a game.
He continued to log big minutes on the penalty kill and the fourth line came up very big in the Final, especially setting the tone with their energetic shifts early in Game 7 in Vancouver. Overall, though, he didn't have as much impact offensively (1-3-4 totals) or physically (just 4 PIMs, though he did have 33 hits) as he did in the regular season. He was a minus-2 in the playoffs while winning just 40.5 percent of his faceoffs (compared to 51.7 percent in the regular season).
2011-12 outlook: Campbell enters the final season of the two-year deal he signed after the trade last summer, which should give him plenty of incentive to deliver another big year to earn a new contract as an unrestricted free agent next summer. The fourth line returns intact with Campbell, Thornton and Daniel Paille all back, and it should once again be among the most effective fourth lines in the league. Campbell was a big reason for that last year, and this season he should again provide leadership, toughness and some timely scoring on that unit, with the ability to fill in on a higher line when needed.
Coming Tuesday, July 26: Shawn Thornton
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