While the pundits were busy speculating on the possibility of sending David Krejci to Anaheim yesterday afternoon, representatives for the 25-year old Czech were meeting with Boston Bruins management putting the finishing touches on a three-year contract extension. Announced this morning, the deal reportedly carries a cap hit of $5.25 million – second highest on the team – a partial no trade clause that will kick in during the 2013-2014 season and will keep Krejci in Black-and-Gold through the 2014-2015 season.
Krejci can now sleep easy at night. The Bruins top pivot has always been a streaky player, but off to the worst start of his five-year NHL career it has been reported of late that Krejci’s struggles can be attributed in part to the pressure of playing in a contract year. With that out of the equations and with last night’s one goal, two assist performance in Toronto just hours after the extension was supposedly signed to use as a springboard, Krejci should return to the form.
Even with the recent emergence of Tyler Seguin, when on his game, Krejci is currently the Bruins’ most talented forward. A gifted passer and playmaker, when he is right, Krejci is the straw that stirs the offensive drink. A threat whenever he touches the puck, proven by the fact Krejci has been either first or second on the team each of the last three seasons in both points and assists. The most attractive quality Krejci offers, however, is his penchant for taking his game to the next level in big spots.
Krejci led the playoffs in scoring with 23 points during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run last summer, becoming the first Bruin to do so since Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr shared the honor during the Bruins’ previous championship season in 1972. Four of the league-leading 12 goals he scored in last year’s playoffs were game-winners. He was regarded as his team’s best player while playing for his native Czech Republic in the 2010 Winter Olympics and it has often been said that the turning point in the Bruins’ historical collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 playoffs was when Krejci was knocked out of the series with a wrist injury. In 52 career playoff games in the NHL, Krejci as racked up 19 goals and 25 assists, which is a production rate about 20% higher than his regular season numbers.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, on the other hand, should have received a firm pat on the back from the rest of the management team for the signing. Not only does Chiarelli get to check off what was to be the biggest name on a list of 10 current Bruins who were set to become free agents at the end of this season, but the deal itself was well structured for both parties. Known early in his tenure in Boston for some suspect contract extensions he handed out, Chiarelli is two-for-two this season with the optimal deals he made, first with winger Brad Marchand and now with Krejci. Good length and good money for a player of Krejci’s talent level and importance to the team, while keeping him as the best trade chip in Chiarelli’s arsenal.
Which direction Chiarelli decides to go in remains the great debate. If he decides to keep Krejci in the fold, the Bruins GM finds himself sitting pretty with a strong core of young and talented players with Stanley Cup experience, many of who are locked into long-term, but manageable contracts. If rumors become reality and Chiarelli decides to shop Krejci, who was deemed as expendable prior to the extension given his then pending free agency and the emergence of and consistent production from Seguin, a natural center who has played on the wing for Boston, he has become even more of an attractive piece on the trade market now that he has a reasonable contract to his credit. With the partial no trade clause not kicking in for another two seasons, Chiarelli has the luxury of waiting to see how things play out for the Bruins both financially – there are still a few key pieces due for new contracts soon – and on the ice.
For now, Krejci will remain in Boston, which is nothing short of a good thing and the right move for at least the next two seasons. Trade rumors, however, will continue to follow the skilled Czech and may even come to fruition as the phenom Seguin continues to look as though he will live up to the “superstar-in-the-making” hype that followed him to Boston. No matter how it turns out, the signing of David Krejci will yield great benefits for the Boston Bruins.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.