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Bruins keeping busy

Kelly, Campbell sign new deals

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / June 12, 2012
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The Bruins once considered goaltending their area of strength. But with Tim Thomas no longer in their plans, the Bruins took steps on Monday to make center their new go-to position.

The Bruins re-signed Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell, their third- and fourth-line centers, to multiyear contracts. Kelly signed a four-year, $12 million extension. Campbell agreed to a three-year, $4.8 million deal. The Bruins now have their four primary centers (Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci being the others) under contract.

Kelly and Campbell were scheduled to reach unrestricted free agency on July 1. They have both been valuable niche players.

Of the two, the 31-year-old Kelly was the priority. In 2011-12, Kelly scored a career-high 20 goals while adding 19 assists. Kelly and Andrew Ference shared the alternate captaincy vacated by Mark Recchi. When Krejci was struggling to find his offensive touch, Kelly assumed temporary first-line center status. Kelly was the only Bruin to appear in all 82 regular-season games.

Since arriving from Ottawa on Feb. 15, 2011, in exchange for a 2012 second-rounder, Kelly has been a perfect fit for coach Claude Julien’s defense-first system. Kelly is a responsible pivot who has earned Julien’s trust in clutch situations. When the Bruins are leading late in games, Julien often tabs Kelly, Bergeron, and Rich Peverley for the final shifts because of their hockey sense, defensive acumen, and faceoff strength.

This past season, Kelly averaged 14:44 of ice time per game, including 1:47 on the penalty kill. Kelly won 51.8 percent of his faceoffs.

Had Kelly reached July 1, he might have landed a richer annual salary. The Senators, Kelly’s previous employers, might have been interested in a reunion. Kelly lives in Ottawa during the offseason. Kelly most likely left some money on the table in exchange for more term on his extension.

The last two seasons, Campbell has anchored the fourth line between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. Campbell landed in Boston along with Nathan Horton on June 22, 2010, in the deal that sent Dennis Wideman, a 2010 first-round pick, and a 2011 third-rounder to Florida.

This past season, the in-your-face Campbell had eight goals and eight assists in 78 games while averaging 12:47 of ice time per appearance. Campbell played 1:40 per game on the penalty kill. Campbell won 50.7 percent of his faceoffs.

Campbell isn’t afraid to drop his mitts. Campbell, the son of former NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, fought 10 times, second most on the team after Thornton (20). The 28-year-old Campbell isn’t as brawny as most fighters, but he is a ferocious scrapper.

The Bruins have just under $64 million committed to next season, including the annual cap hits to Thomas and Marc Savard. They are not expected to re-sign any of their other impending UFAs (Greg Zanon, Brian Rolston, Mike Mottau) before July 1. They will not bring back Joe Corvo.

On July 1, Tuukka Rask and Benoit Pouliot will become restricted free agents.

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

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