It took the Bruins several years (with no offense to Stephane Yelle and Steve Begin) to find a reliable fourth-line center that could do all the things they wanted.
For two straight seasons, Gregory Campbell has fit that bill – killing penalties, taking care of his own end, and making sure the majority of fourth-line shifts are spent in the opposing team’s zone. Ironically, Campbell has played his role so well he probably has priced himself out of Boston, especially if the Bruins re-sign Chris Kelly.
Campbell’s offensive production dropped off a bit this season, but he still scored eight goals and recorded 10 fights. Many teams will look at Campbell as a top-nine forward this summer if he hits the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
Regular season: 78GP, 8-8-16, minus-3
Playoffs: 7GP, 0-2-2, minus-1
Contract status: UFA summer 2012
Regular season recap
Highlight: Campbell recorded the coveted “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” Jan. 19 in New Jersey during a 4-1 win. He scored a third-period insurance goal 35 seconds after Nathan Horton had broken a 1-1 tie. He had assisted on an Andrew Ference goal earlier and fought Brad Mills. He lost the fight but still starred during an important victory.
Lowlight: Just five nights prior to his big game against the Devils, Campbell struggled through a 4-2 loss in Carolina. Campbell was minus-2 in just 13:25 of ice time. He had his pocket picked by Brandon Sutter prior to a Pat Dwyer goal and also was on the ice for the game-losing goal, as Campbell and his teammates failed to clear the puck before Jay Harrison scored with just 1:30 remaining in the game.
Playoff recap: The Bruins’ fourth line was outplayed by Washington’s, and Campbell wasn’t at his most effective. He was minus-2 in the pivotal fifth game.
Grade: B. The Bruins’ balanced attack could’ve used a little more from Campbell over the course of the season. However, he was a physical presence and excellent penalty killer for most of the campaign.
Carnac predicts … once the Bruins find a comfortable salary to bring Kelly, a key player and leader, back, Campbell probably takes his talents elsewhere to get more cash. The Bruins are too deep up front to overpay to retain someone like Campbell unless he takes a hometown discount.