And after watching him help the club win its first Stanley Cup in 39 years less than four months after his arrival, the Bruins had seen enough to make sure that Peverley would stick around a little longer.
Peverley was in the final year of a deal he signed with the Thrashers in 2009 and scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but the Bruins instead locked him up for three more years with an extension signed on Tuesday.
"It's nice to get this done," Peverley said after Tuesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "This is a place that I want to be. There's a lot of good people in this organization and obviously winning last year, I want to be part of a winning organization."
The Bruins wanted Peverley to stick around as well, enough to boost his annual pay from $1.4 million this year to a $3.25 million cap hit on the new deal. TSN's Bob McKenzie was the first to report the terms of the three-year, $9.75-million extension.
"He's a player that we always coveted and we were fortunate to get him last year," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "He's just one of the guys we thought could fit into the top seven, the top six. Maybe we waited a little bit longer on signing some guys that were potentials UFAs, but we just decided to move forward with Rich. He's got speed, a good shot. He's still relatively young in the grander scheme. He's just a guy we wanted to have in our mix for really the next four years."
Peverley got off to a bit of a slow start offensively upon his arrival with just 4-3-7 totals in 23 games last season. But he showed he could contribute in other areas with his speed and smarts, and the offense was on display a bit more in Boston's Cup run when he had 4-8-12 totals in 25 games.
Chiarelli thinks there's even more offensive ability to be tapped in Peverley.
"I found last year that he didn't score as much as I would have thought," Chiarelli said. "He contributed in a lot of ways and he actually scored some very timely goals. I feel he can score more, with greater frequency. I think he's comfortable now. He knows his role and he should be able to finish more."
Peverley had 18-23-41 totals in 82 games combined between Boston and Atlanta last year, but has topped the 20-goal mark before. He had a career-best 22-33-55 line with the Thrashers in 2009-10, and believes he can return to that level and exceed it here in Boston.
"I think when I came here there was an adjustment period. I feel like I can put up numbers close to what I put up before, or you always try to improve. I always want to be an all-around player, but you always want to contribute."
Peverley has been contributing so far this season. He's moved into Mark Recchi's old spot on the second line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, and Peverley's speed has added a new dimension to that unit. Peverley has found his old finishing touch as well, as he already has two goals in the first three games.
"He's a versatile player," Chiarelli said. "He can play any three forward positions. He brings them speed. Not taking anything away from Rex, but he's a little faster than Rex and he shoots the puck and he digs out pucks and when he needs to, he'll go to those dirty areas and that's what I really noticed about him last year in the drive to the Cup. He would sacrifice his body. He would go to those areas, not always win the puck, but he was willing to go there."
Still, Chiarelli didn't commit to keeping Peverley in the top six all season. His versatility also allows him to be effective on a lower line, and the Bruins' depth will soon have other players pushing for spots on the top two lines.
"Sometimes there's a fine line between the top six and the top seven or eight," Chiarelli said. "We always felt he was in that mix before we got him, and we liked the way he fit into our group. It doesn't necessarily mean he'll be in our top six, so to speak, for the rest of the year. I like to think of our top three lines as three equal lines."
Peverley doesn't mind having to continue to prove his worth.
"I think the competition level in the dressing room is pretty high," Peverley said. "We have so many guys competing for minutes, competing for spots, it pushes you as an individual, but at the same time collectively it pushes everybody to be a better team."
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