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 that player's performance last season and outlook heading into the 2011-12 campaign.
With the bulk of their championship squad back for another year, the Bruins didn't have to make a lot of moves this summer. The biggest acquisition they did make was adding offensive defenseman Joe Corvo in a trade with Carolina. Corvo will replace Tomas Kaberle, who made Corvo expendable in Carolina when the Bruins' trade deadline pickup signed as a free agent with the Hurricanes.
2010-11 stats (with Carolina): 82 games, 11-29-40, minus-14, 18 PIMs
Playoffs: Did not play
Contract status: Signed through 2011-12, $2.25-million cap hit
Preseason expectations: After the Hurricanes traded Corvo to Washington at the deadline in 2010, he returned to Carolina that summer, signing a two-year deal as an unrestricted free agent. He was expected to provide some offense from the blue line, quarterback the power play and log big minutes for the Hurricanes.
Regular-season evaluation: Corvo delivered a solid season for the Hurricanes in his second stint in Carolina. He led the team's defensemen and was sixth overall on the squad with 40 points. He did the majority of that damage on the power play, with 23 points coming on the man advantage. Corvo was second on Carolina in ice time, averaging 24:46 a game, with much of that coming on special teams. He played 4:01 a game on the power play and 2:42 a game on the penalty kill. He led Carolina's defensemen with 191 shots, and also blocked 119. Corvo has decent size at 6-foot, 204 pounds, but does not play a particularly physical game. He had just 55 hits all season, but he plays sound positionally and is disciplined, with just 18 penalty minutes.
Playoff evaluation: Corvo didn't get a chance to participate in the postseason with the Hurricanes missing the playoffs. He has played 45 playoff games in his career, posting 5-13-18 totals with a minus-5 rating. He reached the Cup Final in 2007 with Ottawa and the conference final in 2009 with Carolina, helping beat the Bruins in the second round to get there. He had 1-2-3 totals with 24 shots in the seven games against Boston in that series.
2011-12 outlook: The Bruins are counting on Corvo to be a better fit than Kaberle to fill the void for an offensive defensemen. On paper, Corvo does appear a better match. His willingness to fire away from the point might help Boston's struggling power play more than Kaberle's pass-first approach, and Corvo's ability to also contribute on the penalty kill adds even more value. Acquiring Corvo was a low-risk gamble. The Bruins gave up just a fourth-round pick for him and his cap hit is $2 million less than what Kaberle will be making for the next three years in Carolina. Corvo is only signed for one year, so the Bruins aren't locked into anything if things don't work out. And admittedly, finding an offensive defensemen who can consistently produce has been difficult for the Bruins in recent years, with Corvo to follow in the stumbling skating strides of Dennis Wideman and Kaberle. Entering his ninth NHL season, Corvo, 34, does have a solid track record with double-digit goals in four of the last six seasons. He'll have plenty of incentive playing for a new deal after the season, but could also serve as a bridge to younger options, giving players like Steven Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski more time to hone their skills in the minors or a more limited role with the big club.
Coming Sunday, August 7: Steven Kampfer
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