McQuaid/By S. Bradley

The injury bug bit Boston’s back end so much in the 2009-10 season, a lot of doors of opportunity opened for a young defenseman to grad some NHL experience.

Adam McQuaid barged right through that door and proved he could be a pretty reliable third-pair player.

McQuaid, who this summer re-signed for two years with Boston as a restricted free agent, skated in 19 NHL games and even scored a goal. By the end of the regular season, his dashes for the bench to avoid unfavorable match-ups became less panicked and necessary.

In those contests, he proved more than anything that he’s tough. He dropped the gloves three times against some fellow NHL heavyweights. He also made some strides in his decision-making as he got more comfortable playing at the game’s highest level.

The speed of the playoffs looked a bit too quick for McQuaid, and we’ll never know if he would’ve caught up because he suffered an injury in Game 3 against Philadelphia and missed the rest of the series. His shutdown abilities shown in Providence (AHL) might not completely translate to the NHL, but McQuaid should be able to provide Boston with depth on D the next two seasons. There’s no reason why he can’t carve out a niche as a third-pair, shot-blocking, penalty-killing stay-at-home D-man. Not everyone can be a two-way star.

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