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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Peverley excels at both ends of ice

By James Murphy
ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Bruins announced Tuesday that they signed Rich Peverley to a three-year contract extension. The deal, which will keep Peverley from becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season, is worth $9.75 million with a $3.25 million cap hit per season.

Based on Peverley's short stay with the Bruins since arriving at the NHL trade deadline last season, that could prove to be quite the steal for general manager Peter Chiarelli. Peverley has two goals in his first three games this season and he and linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have shown good chemistry early in the season.

"That's one heck of a deal Pete got there," one NHL executive said Tuesday night. "You lock up [David] Krejci [a restricted free agent in July 2012] and you have two solid scoring lines in place for the next few years at least, and that's not even counting a kid like [Tyler] Seguin below them who can provide offense too and could play in that top six soon as well. They've got plenty of depth locked up and they're the defending Stanley Cup champions. That's scary there."

When the Bruins acquired Peverley for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, the skinny on Peverley was that he was a solid two-way player who would bring versatility and speed to an already deep forward group. Peverley had one 22-goal season under his belt while playing with the Thrashers in 2009-10, but when Claude Julien slotted him in on the third line with Michael Ryder and fellow newcomer Chris Kelly, it appeared Peverley would be depended on mostly for his speed and defensive skills.

But after an 11-game scoreless stretch and just four goals and three assists in 23 regular-season games, Peverley came alive in the playoffs. Not only was he solid defensively and a key cog in the Bruins' penalty kill, he chipped in on offense, scoring two game winners and four goals in the playoffs. He scored two goals in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, filling in for the injured Nathan Horton on the top line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

"Obviously he made an instant impact when he jumped in Game 4 last year, having the two big goals. It just goes to show what kind of player he is," Lucic said. "He can play any role on this team and he's become a very valuable player for us 5-on-5, on the power play. He's got that skill. And on the penalty kill, he's got those smarts to be reliable defensively."

Peverley's scoring prowess wasn't a surprise to Chiarelli, who acknowledged Tuesday that he had his eye on Peverley since Peverley's college days.

"Actually, he was at St. Lawrence so it was close by to Ottawa," said Chiarelli, who was the assistant general manager in Ottawa before taking over as GM in Boston. "So I remember seeing him quite a bit. He was skilled. He was a light player, though, back then. I think he just acquired that part of his game, not necessarily being a heavy player but just competing and getting in the right spots and winning his share of puck battles."

After working his way to the NHL with Nashville, Peverley was eventually waived and picked up by the Thrashers during the 2008-09 season. He made the Predators regret the move with 13 goals and 22 assists in the final 39 games, then had 22 goals and 33 assists in 82 games for Atlanta in 2009-10.

"I really started to notice that his first year in Atlanta," Chiarelli said of Peverley's offensive skills. "We had seen him a little bit with Nashville. But I really started seeing that coming out in Atlanta. When he was on the ice, I considered him to be a dangerous player."

Rich Peverley
Rich Peverley has gotten off to a fast start this season, with two goals in three games.

Chiarelli wasn't the only member of the Bruins organization who noticed Peverley's sniper ability.

"It was funny because a couple years back when I was up for 20 games, I sat out against Atlanta and I watched Pevs play the whole game. I saw how he was playing -- he was a little guy too -- and he looked awesome out there," Marchand recalled. "He just really brought it and I feel like a lot of people underestimate how creative he is. He's a very hardworking guy, great with the puck, very good vision and very, very fast. He's a great attribute to our team and we love having him there."

In the team's exit interviews last season, Peverley and Chiarelli agreed that the forward would need to utilize his offensive ability more this season.

"I found last year 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. And he recognizes that, also. He thinks he can too. So I think he's comfortable now, he knows his role and I think he'll be able to finish more."

Peverley is aiming for the results he had with Atlanta in 2009-10 and believes he has found the comfort level to accomplish that.

"I think when I came here there was an adjustment period," Peverley acknowledged. "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."

Last season Bergeron had 22 goals and Marchand had 21. Marchand was asked if he believed that all three players on his current line have the ability to crack the 20-goal plateau this season.

"If we're fortunate to do that then we'll be very happy," Marchand said. "Our job is to bring energy every night and maybe we'll be able to do that. We'll see. It seems like a lot of teams' first lines focus more on the attack than the defensive game and I think if we play strong defensively, get some good rushes, we'll be able to catch some guys cheating or blowing the zone and be able to create some opportunities."

With Bergeron and Peverley here for at least the next three seasons, and Marchand recently signing a two-year deal, they should have the ability to do that for a while.

James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.