McQuaid/By S. Bradley

If the top Halloween costume in New England this fall isn’t “Darth Quaider” then we have all failed.

Bruins rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid both improved by leaps and bounds in all areas of his game and inspired one of the greatest nicknames in franchise history, courtesy of teammate Andrew Ference.

Coming off a lackluster cup of coffee with the Bruins in 2009-10, hardly anyone could’ve imagined that McQuaid would spend large chunks of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup championship season munching top-four minutes.

That he led the league in plus/minus for a few weeks of the season (and finished an amazing plus-30) and still managed to find time for 12 fights only added to his legend and made you wonder if he really could build hockey’s version of the Death Star.

Regular season: 67 GP, 3-12-15, plus-30
Playoffs: 23 GP, 0-4-4, plus-8

Contract status: Signed through 2011-12 at $575,000 cap hit

Best regular-season moment: Any doubts that McQuaid could be an NHL regular were erased Dec. 18 against Washington. He not only recorded an assist on a Patrice Bergeron goal but beat down Captials forward Matt Bradley in a bout that Bradley started in an effort to turn momentum his team’s way. The fight was immortalized on the HBO show “24/7.”

Best playoff moment: By the time the postseason rolled around, McQuaid had become downright bold with his play at both ends. He showed that in the most crucial situation imaginable, as his pinch down the right boards and his work to dig out the puck in overtime of Game 7 against Montreal helped set up Nathan Horton’s game-winner and clinch a first-round victory for the Bruins.

Worst moment: The puck-controlling ways of Detroit dazzled the Bruins during a home-and-home sweep by the Red Wings in February. McQuaid looked out of his league in the first game, with a minus-2 rating, zero shots and zero blocked shots. Luckily, the Bruins never had to face Detroit again after that series.

Regular-season grade: A-minus
Playoff grade: B. McQuaid’s play tailed off a bit over the final two rounds, particularly against the speedy Canucks.

Carnac predicts … McQuaid will settle in on a third pair next season while sometimes filling in in the top four — enough to earn a better pay day and a top-four job somewhere next summer.