savard_marc_cardIn every way, center Marc Savard just keeps rewarding the Boston Bruins for investing so heavily in him back in the summer of 2006. Once merely known as a playmaker, Savard has become a three-zone force with both fancy-pass ability and the skills to bury a puck or two when necessary.

While his production increased just four points from last season to this, Savard was a better all-around player by miles — witness his vital role in the Bruins’ much-improved penalty kill and his career-best plus-25 rating. With the game on the line, the Bruins always want Savard on the ice — no matter the situation — and more often than not he comes through.

Stats: 82 GP, 25-63-88, 70 PIM, plus-25 regular season; 11 GP, 6-7-13, 4 PIM, plus 2 playoffs.

Contract status: Signed through end of 2009-10 at $5 million cap hit.

Season highlight: Savard waited 10 years to reach the NHL playoffs and responded with 1-6-7 totals in the seven-game loss to Montreal in ’08. This spring, he continued to make sure he wouldn’t fall into that dreaded category of players who star in the regular season that struggle in the postseason (headlined of course by that other playmaking center who once played for Boston). In Game 2 against Montreal, Savard announced he was ready to embrace the spotlight with two goals and two assists in the Bruins’ 5-1 rout that sent them well on their way to a four-game sweep.

Season low light: His knee severely hurt in a third-period collision with Chad LaRose in the Bruins’ Game 6 win at Carolina, Savard could barely muster energy to play half as effectively as he’d performed all season two nights later in Game 7. He registered an assist but failed to fire a shot on net and the power play, for which he is the straw that stirs the drinks, failed on all four of his opportunities. It was a gutsy, but ineffective, effort for Savard — one that couldnt’ stop the Bruins’ season from ending.

In summation … Savard was consistently solid all season long and should be considered among the top three or four centers in the entire league at this point in his career.

Grade: A. The Bruins couldn’t have led the league in goals scores and goals against without Savard performing at an amazing level at both ends of the rink all season.

The crystal ball says … Savard might be headed elsewhere. With the Bruins needing to re-sign Phil Kessel, David Krejci and Matt Hunwick, moving the soon-to-be-32 center might be the only way to clear up cap space. More likely, however, Savard plays out his contract in black and gold and tops his ’08-09 numbers in a salary drive.