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Rich Peverley’s contributions on second line make extension a no-brainer

WILMINGTON — Rich Peverley [1]‘s presence on the second line has paid off through three games, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli rewarded him Tuesday with a three-year deal worth a reported $9.75 million.

Through three games, Peverley leads the Bruins with two goals, while Brad Marchand [2]‘s three points (a goal and two assists) ties him with Tyler Seguin [3] for the team lead. With the top line struggling out of the gate, the second line of Peverley, Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron [4] has done enough early on to make the Bruins secure Peverley’s services for three years after his current deal expires.

“He’s a great player. I really like playing with him,” Marchand said Tuesday of Peverley. “He’s very fast, very quick and great with the puck. I think our line is starting to jell a little more every day. Hopefully we can continue to build and create more opportunities each game.

Peverley had tough shoes to fill when he jumped on the second line in place of the retired Mark Recchi [5]. The former Predator and Thrasher first began seeing time with Marchand and Bergeron in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season and was reunited with the the other two during the preseason.

What Peverley brings, aside from his obvious weapon of speed, is an ability to get pucks on net, which at times was an area of weakness for the Bruins last season. He totaled 201 shots last season between Atlanta and Boston, which would have ranked second amongst Bruins forwards and third overall on the team (Zdeno Chara [6] led the team with 264, with Bergeron having 211) had he played the whole season with the team.

“He’s a versatile player. He can play any of the three forward positions,” Chiarelli said of Peverley. “He brings them speed. I’m not taking anything away from Rex, but he’s a little faster than Rex. He shoots the pucks and he digs out pucks, and when he needs to, he’ll go to those dirtier areas. That’s what I really noticed about him last year in the drive to the Cup. He would sacrifice his body and go to those areas and not always win the puck, but he was willing to go there.”

Chiarelli said Tuesday that he had envisioned Peverley as a possible top-six forward when the team acquired him from the Thrashers, and that he hasn’t been surprised by his contributions with Marchand and Bergeron thus far.

“Sometimes there’s a fine line between the top six and the top seven or eight,” Chiarelli said. “We always felt that he was in that mix before we got him. We liked the way that he fit into our group. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be in our top six so to speak for the rest of the year, but I like to think of our [top] three lines as three equal lines. I like his speed, I like his grit for his skill package. He’s got a terrific shot. I like the way his speed backs off the D. It made us a faster team.”

Regardless of whether he sticks on that second line for the season, he’s certainly helping it now.

“They’re aggressive with and without the puck,” Chiarelli said. “He’s a good fit on that line.”