Regular Season Recap:
To say that Rich Peverley largely underwhelmed during the 2013 NHL season would be an understatement.
Coming off a year where he scored 11 goals and added 31 assists in 52 GP, and entering the first year of a 3-year contract extension that amounted to a $3.25 million cap hit for the Bruins, Peverley was expected to continue to anchor the 3rd line while contributing (positively) to the overall quality of depth that Boston could boast up front.
During the lockout, Peverley plied his trade over in Sweden, suiting up for JYP Jyvaskyla of the Swedish Elite League. In 29 GP, Peverley scored 9 goals and 14 assists, a seemingly good omen as the NHL finally got rolling in January.
But for whatever reason, Rich Peverley - and the 3rd line as a unit - failed to find anything resembling consistent production during the shortened season. Flanked by Chris Kelly and a mix of Chris Bourque, Jordan Caron or Jay Pandolfo early in the season, and Kaspars Daugavins or Jaromir Jagr later on in the year, Peverley just could not get it going.
He scored a total of 2 points in January and added 3 more in February before "breaking out" with 13 points in the final 30 games of the regular season.
Possession-wise, Peverley checks in with a 3.82 CorsiOn, lowest among all Bruins top 9 forwards not named Chris Kelly. What this tells us is that at even strength, Peverley (and the 3rd line in general) failed to create much in the way of a positive shot attempt differential on any given night, a reality that generally hinders overall production. Having said that, Peverley's Offensive Zone start % was 44, meaning that he (or Kelly) would have to win a faceoff and help push the puck up the ice before thinking about creating shot opportunities. The challenges here were compounded by the veritable carousel of line mates that he was given to play with throughout the season, putting a dent in the cohesion that was built with Kelly and Benoit Pouliot in 2011-12.
What's interesting to note, however, is that Peverley was on pace to fall 1 shot short of his career high (166 in 82 GP with the Thrashers in 2009-10), while his Sh% dipped to a low not seen since his early days in Nashville.
Unfortunately for Peverley and the Bruins, it was less of the same in the post-season.
Again, a big part of the issue was an inability to mesh with line mates. Peverley got the call with Kelly and Jagr early on, and then "benefited" from the demotion of Tyler Seguin to the 3rd line. As the Final came to a close, he found himself subbing in for Gregory Campbell in the bottom 3, a new look Merlot line without the usual tasty benefits.
Through those 21 games, Peverley was still shooting at a decent clip, but with a very low success rate, and not as often as his on-ice opposition. On top of that, his offensive zone starts dipped to 35.7%, lowest among all Bruins in the playoffs.
Needless to say, it was a rough second season for Rich Peverley.
Add it all together and the 2013 season was a tale of discontinuity on the 3rd line in general and inconsistency from Peverley in particular, with a measure of bad puck luck thrown into the mix for good measure. The kicker, of course, was being added to the Tyler Seguin deal and being sent to Dallas to play for the Stars. At the end of the day, Peverley's production (or lack thereof) no longer justified his cap hit (if it ever did), and the Bruins could ill afford to continue to carry both him and Kelly (who's making slightly less and essentially plays the same role).
But before a grade is assigned, let's take a moment to recap the deal that sent Peverley to Boston in the first place. Here's how he and Blake Wheeler stack up since that trade went down:
Context being as important as it is, note that these two players were called upon to serve in drastically different roles with their new teams: Peverley was more of a 3rd line depth player, used more in defensive situations but possessing the ability to pop one in every now and again, whereas Wheeler was installed on the top line in Winnipeg and has thrived as a Jet. Having said that, Peverley contributed to a Cup winning / contending team and the Jets are, well, the Jets. All thing being equal (and a 98 point swing / subsequent trade with Dallas aside), the Bruins were happy enough with what Peverley brought to the table to give him an extension at the time.
Overall, it was a rough season for Rich Peverley. While his time in Boston ultimately ended on a down note, he may end up being an important piece for the Stars, joining Seguin and Shawn Horcoff down a revamped middle in Dallas.
Farewell, Pevs. It's been a slice.