It’s no secret that the Bruins 3rd line has had its struggles in 2013.
The combination of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and any one of Chris Bourque, Jay Pandolfo or Daniel Paille has scrambled to find the cohesion and consistency that has defined that unit since the Cup run of 2011, and even from a year ago when Benoit Pouliot was manning a wing. With the possibility of a former running mate in Michael Ryder rejoining the fray now a thing of the past – thanks to a trade that sent him to Montreal – it’s up to Peverley and Kelly (and now Jordan Caron) to rediscover the chemistry that has made them a successful unit in Boston.
And in light of Rich Peverley’s hockey story, one should be careful not to write him off too quickly.
Peverley’s Long Road to Boston
A native of Guelph, ON, Peverley took the long road to the NHL. After this good Ontario boy was drafted by the Mississauga Ice Dogs of the OHL during the Don Cherry regime, Peverley decided against the junior hockey route, choosing instead to accept a scholarship at St Lawrence University. There, he led the team in scoring for 3 out of his 4 years.
Unfortunately, his collegiate success did not translate into having the Peverley name called on Draft day, forcing him to begin his pro career in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingers.
In 2005, Peverley made the jump to the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, where he posted 168 points (56 G, 112 A) in 176 games. This was enough to convince Milwaukee’s parent club – the Nashville Predators – to offer him an NHL contract, where he would appear in 73 games over the course of 3 seasons (scoring 7 G & 13 A in 73 GP as a Predator.) In January of 2009, Peverley was waived by the Predators, and subsequently claimed by the Atlanta Thrashers organization, a move that proved to be most beneficial. Peverley proceeded to put up 124 points (49 G, 75 A) in 180 games for Atlanta during 3 seasons, earning both his first big contract (2 years, $2.6 million), as well as an invite to represent Canada at the 2010 World Championships in Germany.
In February of 2011, Peverley – along with Boris Valabik – was acquired by the Bruins in exchange for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, by no means an insignificant price tag. To date, Peverley has scored 18 G & 38 A in 102 regular season games for the Bruins, adding 12 points during Boston’s 2011 playoff run, after which he was able to bring the Cup back to Guelph. Peverley was also one of Boston’s better forwards in last year’s playoff loss to the Capitals, with 3 G & 2A in 7 offensively challenging games.
At the beginning of last season, Peverley signed an extension with the Bruins, worth $9.75 million up to the end of the 2014-15 season. And while he is indeed off to a tough start in 2013 (22 GP, 4 G, 3A, -8), the undrafted forward did achieve this milestone over the weekend:
MILESTONE: Rich Peverley's assist on the @NHLBruins second goal today was his 200th NHL point
— NHL (@NHL) March 9, 2013
True, it’s not the loftiest milestone ever reached in the NHL, but it is quite a feat for an undrafted pro.
Whether Jordan Caron remains on the 3rd line is yet to be seen, but if Saturday’s effort against the Flyers was any indication (where they generated the Bruins 2nd goal on the day), this 3rd unit may indeed be getting back into the swing of things. If not, Boston may have to look outside the organization for additional help (perhaps currently showcasing Caron to that end.)
Either way, the Bruins are no doubt hoping that Peverley himself can find the form that allowed him to battle through some early career adversity to become a meaningful piece on a Cup winning / contending team.
The Bruins have a five game week on deck: away on Monday and Tuesday in Ottawa & Pittsburgh, home on Thursday and Saturday to Florida and Washington, and away on Sunday with a game on NBC against the Penguins. With the lowest GP in the NHL to date, this is when Boston needs to start making good on their games in hand on the competition.
The Skinny on Rich Peverley
|Assets:||Is a late-blooming offensive talent with great vision and setup skills. Can play a well-rounded game and line up at any forward position. Is also a solid face-off man. He’s savvy.|
|Flaws:||Isn’t overly big or physical, so he can be pushed around at the NHL level. Will also turn the puck over from time to time. Can also go stretches without scoring goals.|
|Career Potential:||Quality, versatile playmaking forward.|
Rich Peverley Takes Bruins Fans On A Tour of Guelph
Follow Ian on Twitter for more hockey updates and commentary.