New Bruins defenseman Andrew Peeke looking for clean slate after trade

New Bruins defenseman Andrew Peeke looking for clean slate after trade

Bruins

“Being able to compete for the playoffs — that’s all you can ask for.”

Andrew Peeke played a limited role for the Blue Jackets this season. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Andrew Peeke needed a change of scenery, to put it lightly.

The 25-year-old defenseman was a regular contributor on the Blue Jackets over the last few seasons, playing in 162 out of a possible 164 games in Columbus from 2021-23 — averaging 21:22 of ice time per game over that extended stretch.

But this year was a different story for the Parkland, Florida, native.

Even with Columbus looking at an extensive rebuild, Peeke only played in 23 games with the Jackets in 2023-24, averaging just 15:37 of ice time per contest. With the rangy blueliner signed through the 2025-26 season with an annual cap hit of $2.75 million, Peeke was viewed as a potential buyout candidate this offseason.

Instead, the Bruins tabbed Peeke as a worthwhile investment — sending Columbus a 2027 third-round pick and Jakub Zboril to Columbus in order to bolster their D corps.

For Peeke, some new surroundings are welcome after finding himself in lineup purgatory with the Blue Jackets.

“There were some tough days, a lot of adversity,” Peeke said of his experience this season. “But I think, looking back at it now, and obviously being where I am today, you can only look back at it and make a positive out of it — helping you grow as a person, as a hockey player. I think for me, it just helped me understand a lot of things in terms of what I gotta do on a nightly basis and that’s what I’m excited about.”

The underlying metrics surrounding Peeke’s game may not leap off the page, especially this season. On a porous Columbus D corps last season, the University of Notre Dame product was a minus-41.

But Peeke’s size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and pugnacious skillset are an appealing package for a team looking to beef up their blue line like the Bruins.

“We feel really good that he brings a different element. … Confidence is probably the right word, systems structure is going to be the next thing that we’re going to really hammer down in terms of getting him up to full speed in terms of how we play and the structure that we want to play with,” Don Sweeney said of Peeke’s play. “We feel comfortable that we’ll be able to do that and he’ll buy into what needs to be the player.

“As I referenced, two years ago he was playing with [Zach Werenski] most nights for 20 minutes. Change in coach and systems — thinking some players respond, some players don’t. It’s incumbent upon us and our staff to make sure that we’ve made the right decision and the player’s fully bought in.”

The Bruins are banking on greater returns for Peeke in their more rigid, zone defensive structure — while his propensity to dole out punishment could add a much-needed element ahead of the postseason.

As noted by Ty Anderson of 98.5 The Sports Hub, of the 325 NHLers to play at least 3,000 minutes over the last three seasons — Peeke ranks sixth in blocks per 60 (6.03) and 35th in hits per 60 (6.43).

“Big-bodied defenseman,” Peeke said of his skillset. “I like to play physical, work hard in the corners, battle and win those, and use my feet and move the puck up the ice. Defending has always been one of my strongest suits as a player and that’s something I’ve always taken pride in since coming into the NHL level.”

Peeke has already heard plenty about the expectations in Boston, especially from his former Columbus teammate in Sean Kuraly.

“I’ve heard about Boston for the past three years from Sean,” Peeke said with a laugh.

Those expectations will bring more pressure on Peeke, who could fight for regular minutes with Kevin Shattenkirk as Boston’s third-pairing, right-shot D. But considering where he was just a few weeks ago, Peeke welcomes that challenge — especially with his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs just weeks away.

“I think with how the year had gone, the biggest thing for me was I just wanted to play hockey,” Peeke said. “The past two years, I’ve played pretty much every game and, not that you get comfortable, but you get in a routine of doing that.

“So obviously with how the year went — you just want to play hockey and obviously finding out the news that I was coming to a place like Boston and being able to compete for the playoffs — that’s all you can ask for as a player and something I haven’t had yet so I’m super thrilled about that.”

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