A top amateur prospect growing up in Boston, MA, Paul Mara has been an NHL regular for the most part since making his NHL debut late in the 1998-99 season.
Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Mara starred at Belmont Hill High School before joining the OHL's Sudbury Wolves in 1996-97. He was chosen seventh overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning after registering 43 points in 44 games and playing the body effectively as an OHL rookie. Mara returned to junior for two more years and fired 13 goals for the Plymouth Whalers in 1998-99.
The young blueliner notched a goal and an assist in one NHL game for Tampa Bay after his last junior season. After playing the first 46 games of the 2000-01 season, the talented youngster was a key part of the package sent to Phoenix for holdout goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Mara averaged nearly 20 minutes per game and played with a great deal of confidence in the last 16 games of the regular season for his new club.
A three-time member of the U.S World Junior Team, Mara spent some time early in his career gaining some experience in the IHL with the Detroit Vipers before he played his first full season in the NHL in 2001-02. A durable player, who plays strong in his own end, Mara has seen his offensive numbers increase over the past two seasons and continues to be one of the top young talents in the league.
In 2003-04, Mara established a career high in points with 42 points (6-36-42) and was a key player in helping the U.S. capture a bronze medal at the 2004 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
Following parts of four seasons with Phoenix, Mara was dealt to the Boston Bruins by the Coyotes in exchange for Nick Boynton. Mara's stint with the Bruins was short lived when after only 59 games with the club he was dealt to the New York Rangers at the NHL trading deadline. In the summer of 2008, the Rangers locked up Mara to a 1-year, $1.95 million contract.
In the summer of 2009 Mara signed on with the Montreal Canadiens as an unrestricted free agent, but would manage only to appear in 42 games for the club the following season.
On September 16, 2010, Mara inked a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks, but he would fail to complete a full season in California. He was traded back to Montreal in the days leading up to the 2011 NHL trade deadline in exchange for a fifth round draft pick.