Since his arrival from Buffalo in 2009, Daniel Paille has occupied a well-defined niche with the Bruins. Paille is the fourth-line left wing and penalty-killing specialist.
But one reason the Bruins signed Paille to a three-year, $3.9 million contract extension on Friday is the potential that remains in his game.
Paille, a former first-round pick, has the speed to crack the top nine forwards. Whether Paille’s hands, vision, and hockey sense can follow will determine whether he can earn a greater role.
“I think at the very least - the very, very least - we’re going to get what we’ve been getting, and I’ve been very happy with that,’’ said general manager Peter Chiarelli during a conference call. “I think he can play up the lineup. He knows this organization. He knows the coaching staff well enough to know what needs to be done. He’s got the speed. There are other elements of his game that allow him to play up the lineup. To know that he can do that on an intermittent basis is great.’’
Paille will earn a slight raise from the $1.075 million he averaged in each of the last two years. During that span, Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton formed one of the league’s more consistent fourth lines. Early in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Paille and his fourth-line mates were critical in staving off Vancouver’s early pressure.
This season, Paille had nine goals and six assists in 69 games, averaging 11:30 of ice time. With Campbell as a penalty-killing partner, Paille averaged 1:20 of shorthanded action per game.
“I feel like I have a big role here,’’ said the 28-year-old Paille. “I want to make it a bigger role. Whether it’s the same line now or moving up, either way I’m happy. I definitely feel I have a lot more to give and I’m coming into my prime. For me, it’s a confidence booster going into the future.’’
Contract for Bourque
Chris Bourque, acquired from Washington last Saturday for Zach Hamill, signed a two-year contract on Friday. The son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque will earn $550,000 next season if he makes the big-league roster, or $200,000 in Providence.
In 2013-14, Bourque’s contract switches to a one-way, $550,000 contract.
Bourque will be in the mix for a bottom-six NHL job when he reports to training camp. If he plays in Providence, Bourque will be a go-to scorer. The left wing led the AHL in scoring this season while playing for Hershey, the Capitals’ top farm club.
“I told him today that I think he’s got a good chance at making our team,’’ Chiarelli said. “I told him, basically, that he’s not just here to go to Providence. If he does go to Providence, that will be great. That it’s a one-way deal the second year speaks to how we feel about Chris.’’
Corvo won’t return
Chiarelli confirmed that defenseman Joe Corvo, who will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, will not be re-signed.
The Bruins acquired Corvo from the Hurricanes on July 5 for a 2012 fourth-round pick. The Bruins projected Corvo to provide some of the puck-moving abilities once exhibited by Tomas Kaberle, but he was just as underwhelming.
In 75 games this season, Corvo scored four goals and 21 assists while averaging 18:49 of ice time. Corvo was inconsistently offensively, and in his own zone, struggled with the team’s zone coverage, especially in the corners and in front of the net. Corvo had played in a man-to-man system in Carolina. Corvo would have been a healthy scratch during the playoffs had Adam McQuaid not been felled by a concussion. Dougie Hamilton will be among the candidates to replace Corvo in 2012-13.
Kelly still unsigned
The Bruins continue to negotiate with center Chris Kelly. The alternate captain will reach UFA status on July 1 . . . Chiarelli said the lines of communication remain open with Greg Zanon, Brian Rolston, and Mike Mottau. None is expected to re-sign before July 1 . . . Counting Tim Thomas and Marc Savard, the Bruins have approximately $60 million committed to 2012-13. Next year’s cap has been set at $70.3 million, according to TSN. However, the cap could decline upon the introduction of the next collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA will expire Sept. 15 . . . The Bruins will conclude their work at the NHL combine in Toronto on Saturday. They will conduct pro and amateur scouting meetings in Boston next week in preparation for the draft and the opening of free agency.