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Corvo is grabbed by Bruins

He’s acquired from Canes after they sign Kaberle

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / July 6, 2011

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Yesterday, the Hurricanes handed Tomas Kaberle what the Bruins were in no rush to give: a three-year contract.

At the right price, the Bruins would have committed to one more year of Kaberle’s services. Perhaps two. But certainly not three, and not for $12.75 million, which is the bounty the 33-year-old Kaberle - his legs don’t project to be lively in 2014 - earned from Carolina.

In response, the Bruins targeted the player Kaberle was projected to replace on the Carolina blue line. Shortly after the Bruins lost Kaberle to the Hurricanes, they acquired Joe Corvo from Carolina for a 2012 fourth-round pick. Not only does Corvo come cheaper (one year at $2.25 million remaining on his deal), but the right-shot defenseman should be a one-for-one upgrade over Kaberle, who was destined for third-pairing duty had he remained in Boston.

“One of the stumbling blocks was term,’’ general manager Peter Chiarelli said of negotiations with Kaberle. “I can completely respect why Tomas would want some form of term. We weren’t able to reach common ground with that respect. We were nibbling at this opportunity for a bit to acquire Joe. It came down to, ‘Carolina’s signing Tomas, here’s a chance to acquire Joe.’ ’’

The 34-year-old Corvo is a puck-mover and power-play quarterback. Last year, Corvo played in all 82 games, scoring 11 goals and 29 assists. He averaged 24:46 in ice time per game, second on the team behind Joni Pitkanen (25:01).

Corvo was fourth on the team with 191 shots. He has a heavy slapper that he’s willing to use. Kaberle landed only 131 shots last year.

Corvo is primarily a right-side defenseman, but he’ll most likely see time on the left. Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, and Adam McQuaid are right-side defensemen.

On the power play, Corvo scored five goals and 18 assists while logging 4:01 of man-advantage time per game. He projects to be the triggerman on the No. 1 power-play unit. But Corvo also will be leaned upon to retrieve pucks, start the breakout, and help the power play execute clean entries over the offensive blue line.

“He’s a tremendous skater,’’ said Chiarelli. “He’s very quick. He’s very good at retrieving pucks, skating them up through the neutral zone, and making a good seam pass. He’s got a terrific shot. I’ve seen him score often on one-timers. He’s very dangerous that way. He gives us another hard shot from the right side.’’

Two summers ago, the Bruins signed Derek Morris, another sturdy, right-shot defenseman with some offensive punch. But Morris, 31 at the time, already was showing signs of high mileage. In Claude Julien’s system, Morris was more of a stay-at-home defenseman and power-play gunner.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound Corvo has some elements of Morris’s game - hard shot, crisp passing, thick defensive presence. But even at 34, Corvo has more juice in his legs. Most recently, Corvo played the mobile role to complement partner Tim Gleason’s shutdown approach. As Corvo has matured, he’s quieted his game and molded himself into an efficient and steady two-way defenseman.

“I think it’s the experience,’’ Corvo said of approaching his sweet spot later in his career. “I’m a lot more comfortable in a lot of situations. I’ve played a lot of penalty kill. I’ve pretty much done it all out there. There’s more of a calm factor. I know what I can do out there. I’m not really going to extend too far past that and try to do too much. In the years I’ve played, you find your niche and figure out what it takes to be successful. Then you do those things over and over. That’s where I’m at right now.’’

Corvo originally was selected by Los Angeles in the fourth round of the 1997 draft. In 2002, while playing for Manchester, the Kings’ AHL affiliate, Corvo was arrested for assaulting a woman in a Boston restaurant. He pleaded guilty in 2003 and was given a three-year suspended sentence.

Corvo signed with Ottawa as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2006. Ottawa traded Corvo and Patrick Eaves to Carolina on Feb. 11, 2008, for Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore.

The Bruins now have acquired both ex-Hurricanes. On July 24, 2009, the Bruins landed Eaves and a 2010 fourth-round pick for Aaron Ward. The Bruins then bought out Eaves.

On March 3, 2010, Washington acquired Corvo as a deadline rental from Carolina for Brian Pothier, Oskars Osala, and a 2011 second-round pick. In 18 regular-season games for the Capitals, Corvo scored two goals and had four assists. In seven playoff games, he had one goal and one assist.

Last July, Corvo went back to Carolina, signing a two-year, $4.5 million contract.

“When a team wants a player back, that speaks volumes,’’ Chiarelli said. “His play reflected that.’’

In Kaberle, the Bruins believed they had landed the puck-moving defenseman who would propel them to the Stanley Cup. Kaberle certainly helped the Bruins win the Cup, but he didn’t come close to fulfilling their expectations.

Ultimately, Kaberle settled into a No. 5 role alongside McQuaid. It would have been the height of financial irresponsibility had the Bruins offered Kaberle a deal similar to the one he signed with the Hurricanes.

In Carolina, Kaberle will be reunited with Paul Maurice, his coach in Toronto for two seasons. Carolina’s man-to-man defense and go-go attack should be a far better fit for Kaberle. Although Kaberle helped the Bruins win the Cup, the team swung and missed when it determined the defenseman’s skills would translate from Toronto’s system to its own.

The Bruins now will train their efforts on re-signing restricted free agent Brad Marchand. They could round out their defensive depth with an inexpensive signing. But after replacing Kaberle and Michael Ryder with Corvo and Benoit Pouliot, the Bruins have fulfilled their biggest orders of business.

“We’re not going out and being real proactive at this point,’’ Chiarelli said.

The Bruins signed Brockton native Josh Hennessy and Jamie Tardif yesterday. Hennessy signed a one-year contract. Tardif agreed to a two-year deal. Last year, Hennessy played for HC Lugano in Switzerland. The 25-year-old forward scored nine goals and 10 assists in 36 games. Hennessy has appeared in 20 NHL games, all with Ottawa. For the last two years, Tardif has served as captain for Grand Rapids, Detroit’s AHL affiliate. Last season, the forward scored 27 goals and had 27 assists in 77 games. Both will be depth players in Providence . . . The Bruins open their annual development camp tomorrow at Ristuccia Arena with a 1:15 p.m. practice. Camp runs until Monday. All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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