With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.
2011-12 stats: 57 games played, 11 goals, 31 assists, 42 points, plus-20
Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 ($3.25 million cap hit)
Looking back: The 2011-12 season was Peverley’s first full go of it in Boston after being acquired in February of 2011, but the season ended up being plagued by injuries.
First there was an undisclosed injury that caused the Bruins to give him practices and occasional games off, but the real damage was done when Peverley sprained his MCL on a hit from then-Habs defenseman Hal Gill on Feb. 15. That injury kept him out for the next 18 games, accounting for the majority of the 25 games he missed during the regular season.
Still, despite missing as much time as he did, Peverley surpassed the 41 points he had in 82 games in the 2010-11 season. His 31 assists were just two shy of his career-best from 2009-10 (also an 82-game campaign), while his 11 goals made for his lowest total since 2008-09 (two goals in 27 games). Generally moving around between the top three lines, Peverley gained experience playing with a lot of different guys, but such can be expected from a player with his versatility. He took over Nathan Horton‘s spot on David Krejci‘s line after Horton suffered his latest concussion.
The postseason was where Peverley really shined. In a round in which both teams were very quiet offensively, Peverley led the Bruins with three goals in their seven-game first-round series against the Capitals. He was Boston’s best player when the B’s faced elimination in Game 6, as he notched a goal and an assist while winning 13 of 24 faceoffs with Patrice Bergeron unable to take draws. He didn’t fare as well in Game 7, losing 15 of 26 draws.
Looking ahead: The Bruins were able to lock up Peverley, one of many Bruins who entered the season on the final year of their deals, in October with a three-year contract that carries an annual cap hit of $3.25 million. For the sake of comparison, that’s one more year and $250,000 less than Michael Ryder got from the Stars. Such a contract means that the expectations on Peverley will high in the coming seasons.
So what will justify Peverley’s contract? He’s only had one season with 50 or more points in his career (55 in 2009-10), and one would think the 29-year-old has a few more campaigns like that ahead of him.
Of course, and as was seen with Ryder in Dallas this past season, the points can be highly impacted with where he is in the lineup. Assuming Horton is healthy and both Krejci and Milan Lucic are back next season, it would appear that Peverley will be pencilled in on the third line to begin next season. Chris Kelly‘s status as an unrestricted free agent also will play a factor there, as Peverley could potentially take over as the third-line center should Kelly bolt in July.
Ultimately, health and opportunity will help determine whether Peverley makes the Bruins look smart for paying him. The B’s love versatility, and as a guy capable of playing on any of the top three lines (at wing or center), the power play and the penalty kill, Peverley provides obvious value to Claude Julien and the Bruins.