Editor's Note: Over the next few weeks, NESN.com Bruins beat writer Douglas Flynn will be taking an in-depth look at one Bruins player each day, analyzing his performance last season and his outlook heading into the 2011-12 campaign.
Rich Peverley plays the kind of steady game that often goes overlooked. He went undrafted coming out of St. Lawrence, was claimed on waivers by Atlanta from Nashville and his acquisition by the Bruins in February was overshadowed by the trade for Tomas Kaberle that followed.
But Peverley made quite an impact in his brief time in Boston, making a significant contribution to the Bruins' Cup run with his solid two-way play and versatility as he saw time at both center and wing and everywhere from the fourth line to the first.
2010-11 stats: 23 games, 4-3-7, minus-1, 2 PIMs with Boston; 82 games, 18-23-41, minus-17, 37 PIMs overall
Playoffs: 25 games, 4-8-12, plus-6, 17 PIMs
Contract status: Signed through 2011-12, $1.325 million cap hit
Preseason expectations: Considering he began the season in Atlanta, the Bruins didn't have any expectations for Peverley, other than maybe the need to keep a close eye on him when they played the Thrashers, as he was coming off a career season with 22-33-55 totals in 2009-10. When the Bruins did acquire him just before the trade deadline, Peverley was brought in to give the Bruins more versatility up front. With Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart headed to Atlanta, that deal also gave the Bruins the cap space needed to trade for Kaberle.
Regular-season evaluation: Peverley was solid in his brief Bruins debut. He didn't fill the scoresheet, as he was put into more of a checking role than what he was accustomed to in Atlanta, but he adapted well to those responsibilities and formed some good chemistry with fellow newcomer Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. Peverley and Kelly flip-flopped between center and wing, but Peverley proved particularly effective on draws with a 58.3 winning percentage. His ice time dipped from 19:13 with Atlanta to 15:46 with Boston, but he still contributed in a variety of roles, taking a regular shift on the penalty kill and even seeing some limited power-play duty. He finished the regular season strong with a three-game point streak that included goals in the final two games, and carried that into a strong playoff showing.
Playoff evaluation: Peverley really proved his worth when it mattered most, turning in an impressive playoff performance in his first spring with the Bruins. Peverley's only prior NHL postseason experience was a six-game stint with Nashville back in 2008, but he looked like a playoff veteran as he showed plenty of poise and composure throughout the run. He put up 1-4-5 totals in the opening round against the Habs, scoring the game-winner in Game 3 and chipping in two assists, including one on Ryder's OT winner, in Game 4 to help the Bruins climb out of an 0-2 hole in that series. He then added 2-2-4 totals in the Cup Final, including two goals in Game 4. That was his first game on the top line as he moved into Nathan Horton's spot after Horton suffered a concussion in Game 3. Peverley responded to the new role by opening and closing the scoring in a 4-0 win. Peverley continued his strong faceoff work in the playoffs, winning 53.5 percent of his draws, and even ramped up his physical play. After recording just five hits in 23 regular-season games with Boston, he had 15 in 25 playoff contests and even dropped the gloves in a fight against Tampa's Marc-Andre Bergeron in the Eastern Conference Final.
2011-12 outlook: When the Bruins made the trades for Peverley and Kelly before the deadline, general manager Peter Chiarelli stated that part of the appeal of both players was the fact that neither was a rental. Both were signed through the 2011-12 season at reasonable cap hits, and after his strong playoff showing Peverley should provide plenty of value in his first full season with the club. He could be given a chance to move into Mark Recchi's former spot on the second line, which was the one unit he did not play on in the playoffs, or could remain on the third line with Kelly. Either way, his versatility gives the Bruins plenty of options and enviable depth up front.
Coming Sunday, July 24: Chris Kelly
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