He barely reached 10 goals in 74 games played for the Bruins last season, despite playing for stretches on lines centered by the likes of Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard.
But Daniel Paille was a leading performer on Boston’s solid penalty kill last season, and general manager Peter Chiarelli believes the 26-year-old winger is capable of even more contributions. So the GM re-signed Paille to a two-year deal worth $1.075 million per season Thursday.
Paille isn’t shying away from the expectations that he can be more than just a fourth-liner and a standout in shorthanded situations.
“That’s something I want to set aside as a goal for myself,” said Paille, who called TheBruinsBlog.net from his offseason home in the Niagara Falls area. “If I’m playing on the fourth line, I don’t have a problem with that because it’s still a solid fourth line and I still feel that we’ll play fairly enough for a fourth line. But obviously I want to improve on last year, be a more consistent player and play on the top three lines if there’s availability.”
Should Paille crack the top nine and just make history repeat itself – he scored 19 goals for Buffalo in 2007-08 – he would prove to be one of the better bargains of the summer of ’10. At least Paille knows that Boston, which traded a third-round pick to the Sabres for him last Oct. 21, will provide a more nurturing situation for him to excel than he experienced in Buffalo. Chiarelli said Thursday that Paille sometimes suffers from a crisis in confidence, and Paille agrees. But head coach Claude Julien and his staff, plus a solid corps of veteran teammates, should continue to do wonders for Paille’s self esteem.
“If I made mistakes with Boston, I didn’t feel threatened or disappointed with myself. The coaches would tell me, they’d criticize me, but it’d be very positive criticism,” said Paille. “I took it very well and I’m just willing to learn. I think that’s a big part of hockey, managing that aspect of the game and I think the rest takes care of itself if you can control that.”
Returning to Boston also means a chance for Paille to re-connect with childhood friend Nathan Horton. The former Florida winger grew up in Welland, Ontario with Paille, although their on-ice paths rarely crossed once they got past Junior B age because, as Paille explains it, Horton is one year younger but always played two years up.
As it stands now, Horton is the only major addition – if you downplay Tyler Seguin’s potential impact like the Bruins want you to – to mostly the same Bruins squad that finished 2009-10.
“Right now, it looks like we’re on the positive side,” said Paille. “So hopefully we can improve on that for next season with scoring.”
Any scoring Paille could provide would obviously go a long way toward Boston’s overall improvement.