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The Bruins’ fourth line has been one of the most consistent aspects of the team since its 2011 Stanley Cup-winning season, but that will change in 2014-15.
Shawn Thornton left as a free agent in July, and the other two spots have yet to be determined. Gregory Campbell has centered the fourth line since he was acquired by the Bruins before the 2010-11 campaign, but he also played wing last season and could receive ice time in that role in 2014-15.
At the moment, he is dealing with a minor mid-core issue, and B’s head coach Claude Julien doesn’t have a timetable for his return. Campbell has not yet skated in training camp.
2013-14 Stats: eight goals, 13 assists, 21 points in 82 games
Contract: one year remaining with a $1.6 million salary cap hit
What He Will Bring The Team
Campbell brings the skills expected of a fourth-liner: grit, leadership, shot blocking, a willingness to drop the gloves and a wealth of experience. He does provide decent scoring production as his 21 points in 2013-14 were the third-highest total of his career. Campbell also is a very good penalty killer, and his 1:51 of short-handed time on ice per game ranked second among Bruins forwards last season (Patrice Bergeron led with 1:57). He’s also been a durable player for the Bruins with a total of just six games missed over the last three non-lockout seasons.
Weakness That Must Be Improved
Campbell does very little to help the Bruins drive puck possession. He won just 47.1 percent of his faceoffs last season and his corsi-relative was minus-10.7, which means the B’s averaged nearly 11 percent less shots when the veteran center was on the ice. The Bruins are a puck-possession team, so it will be interesting to see if someone else centers the fourth line to improve the team’s shot-differential.
Expected Role For 2014-15
Unless the Bruins decide to put a young player such as Ryan Spooner or Alex Khokhlachev at center on the fourth line, which is unlikely, expect Campbell to return to his normal spot. He also will play center on the second penalty kill unit.
Projected 2014-15 Stats: seven goals, 15 assists in 80 games
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