By Mike Miccoli
Leading up to the start of the season, New England Hockey Journal will be taking a look ahead to 2013-14 with a series of Bruins player previews throughout September.
We're kicking off the series with a look at fleet-footed winger Daniel Paille, who had a Seventh Player-worthy season for the Black and Gold in 2013.
HEIGHT: 6-foot WEIGHT: 200 SHOOTS: Left
BORN: April 15, 1984 – Welland, Ontario, Canada
DRAFT: 2002 – 1st round (20th Overall) by the Buffalo Sabres
CONTRACT STATUS: Signed through 2014-15 ($1.3 million cap hit)
2012-13 STATISTICS: 10 goals, 7 assists, 17 points, plus-3 in 46 games
LOOKING BACK ON 2013
The statistics may not look too impressive on paper, but Daniel Paille had his best year as a Bruin during the truncated 2013 NHL season. His solid play earned him a few opportunities to provide a boost on Boston’s struggling third line along with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley – a departure from his consistent role on the Merlot line. In fact, his 10 goals tied a career high with the Bruins – first set in 2009-10 – but in 28 fewer games played.
Most notable during the 2013 season was that Paille’s play became more complete and consistent. The Ontario native solidified himself as a top-nine forward with the Bruins while still maintaining his defensive characteristics. Paille became a safe bet on the Bruins’ penalty kill, the fourth-best unit in the NHL, and notched two shorthanded goals partially due to his dynamic speed.
In what should have been a “Seventh Man” of a season for the left winger, Paille truly did exceed the expectations that were set for him. After playing briefly for Ilves Tampere (Finland) at the tail-end of the lockout, he was able to make an impact for Boston right away, scoring the game-winning goal against the New York Rangers in the first game of the Bruins’ season.
Paille finished the regular season strong, scoring four of his ten goals in the month of April and carried over the momentum into the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. Playing on a line with Kelly and now-former Bruin Tyler Seguin, Paille tallied two goals and two assists in the Cup Final; both of his goals were game-winners.
1. Paille was acquired by Boston from the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 20, 2009 for a 2010 third-round pick in the NHL Entry Draft. The pick ended up being Kevin Sundher, who spent his first year as a pro playing for the Rochester Americans in the AHL in 2012-13.
2. The last Bruin to wear No. 20 longer than Paille (2009-10 to present) is Mike O’Connell (1981-82 – 1985-86).
3. Won the Memorial Cup in 2003-04 as a member of the OHL’s Guelph Storm. His teammates? Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, and (team-leading scorer) Martin St. Pierre. Paille was second in scoring with 37 goals and 43 assists (80 points) in 59 games.
4. Not necessarily known as a tough guy, Paille has been involved in only two fights during his eight-year career in the NHL. However, his time in the OHL was a little different. Paille mixed it up nine times, including two bouts with new Maple Leaf David Clarkson.
5. Fellow linemate Gregory Campbell was a teammate of Paille’s briefly during the 2005-06 AHL season with the Rochester Americans. The Americans had a dual affiliation with Paille’s Buffalo Sabres and Campbell’s Florida Panthers.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2013-14
Paille’s biggest challenge for the 2013-14 NHL season is to prove that his previous campaign was anything but an anomaly. Though a shortened season reduced his numbers to what an ordinary year would look like, Paille was on pace to score 17 goals, a number he hadn’t come close to since his 2007-08 season with the Sabres (19 goals).
While all will be status quo with his usual contributions on the penalty-kill unit, Paille should return to his usual role on the Merlot line with Campbell and Shawn Thornton. However, there is a chance that he could also be a candidate to replace Peverley on a line with Kelly and Carl Soderberg, keeping the spot on the fourth-line open to the multitude of prospects vying for a spot. Paille did have some success when playing with Kelly and was the spark that got the center’s game back on track in the postseason. Bruins’ coach Claude Julien could factor in the chemistry of the pair when constructing the lines for the upcoming season.
PREDICTION FOR 2013-14
If Paille is able to stay healthy, there’s a chance for him to carry over some of last season’s success. The fact that his game transitioned so well into the postseason should lead one to believe that there’s hope for more of the same this season.
However, the Bruins have seen this type of performance before when a player goes above and beyond, stepping completely outside of their predicted performance. It happened in 2010-11 when Thornton scored 10 goals with 10 assists, and then again when Kelly turned into a 20-goal scorer for the first time in his career in 2011-12. If we’re following patterns, 2013 was Paille’s season to shine next season might see his production take a hit. However, don’t be surprised if Paille’s the one to break that tradition.
PREDICTION: 11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points, plus-4 in 75 games.
Photos: Getty Images