Name: Steve Begin
Status: $850,000 salary UFA
Regular season, EV: 18.28% w/Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille — 14.51% w/Thornton and Byron Bitz
Regular season, PK: 69.22% w/Paille — 7.25% w/Bitz
Playoffs, EV: 21.65% w/Thornton and Paille — 16.9% w/Thornton and Trent Whitfield
Playoffs, PK: 72.32% w/Paille — 10.71% w/Whitfield
The Good: A warrior. Played banged-up and hurt many-a-nights, Begin was a solid, versatile center that complimented the fourth-line and linemates. No. 27 started the beginning of the year on a tear, posting 2-4-6 totals in the first nine games of the season. The 31-year-old UFA was arguably the most physical player on the ice on any given night, as he led all Bruins’ players with 184 hits throughout the regular season — 33 more than Chara who ranked second — and his 41 hits in the post season was second behind Lucic’s 42.
Along with being an all-around fourth-line center, Begin finished the season with a respectable 53.5 faceoff winning percentage, and 53.7 percent in the playoffs.
Flirting with a handful of shifts on the top-line, it was on the shorthand where Begin shined. His presence on the penalty kill helped ranked Boston third overall in the NHL this season, and first in the post season. He logged 146:27 total ice time (TOI) on the PK, second behind Paille, and lead all Black-and-Gold forwards with 2:28 average PK/TOI per game.
The Bad: While posting six points in nine games, Begin drastically cooled off and finished with 3-5-8 over the next 68 games (5-9-14 in 77 games played). Once an agitator that everyone hated to play against — especially in Montreal — Begin’s demeanor and chippiness seemed to take a back seat once arriving in Boston. Still a physical and aggressive player, Begin failed to live up to the hype of being the agitator that could get under the skin of his opponents.
Was it the coach who told him to clean up his act? Perhaps.
At $850K, Begin filled the role of last year’s Stephan Yelle, with a bit more of an edge. And for the money and his role, it’s unfair to knock Begin’s lack of offensive production. Unfortunately, being a UFA on Jul. 1, I don’t think we’ll see this No. 27 back in Boston, as there are a few AHL players itching to find their way on this Bruins’ roster.
One of my favorite players to talk to in the locker room, Begin gets a solid “B” from me.
Next report card: No. 30 Tim Thomas