The Boston Bruins are seeing immediate returns on investments when it comes to new faces in the lineup for the 2022-23 season. Three players who weren’t on the club last season, David Krejci, Pavel Zacha and AJ Greer, have all contributed on the scoresheet for the Bruins. In fact, Krejci is tied for first on the team in points with four, while Greer and Zacha are right behind with three points apiece each. Additionally, Greer is actually the team’s leading goal-scorer through two games after scoring two goals, including an empty-netter, in the Bruins’ 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.
It’s hard to list Krejci as a newcomer to the Bruins given his 15 seasons and 961 games of NHL experience all came with Boston prior to his departure to the Czech Republic last season and his eventual return to the NHL this season. Still, he’s an addition to the team this season and he still helps illustrate the point that some fresh faces are making an impact early in the season.
When the Bruins signed Krejci to a one-year deal during the 2022 offseason, most fans were pleasantly surprised and genuinely excited. Others, however, felt like the deal was strange for the Bruins as the ship had seemingly sailed on their Stanley Cup contention window; signing Krejci was viewed by some as more of a nostalgic move than one that meaningfully moved the needle. In that regard, it would make sense to feel like signing Krejci would be enough to make the Bruins a good, not great team, kicking the rebuilding can further down the road and holding onto the past.
While it may be true that signing Krejci wasn’t guaranteed to be a considerable needle-mover at his age and one season removed from his last stint in the NHL, it always felt a little silly to be so down on a signing that would, if nothing else, be a nice feel-good story and give this core one last chance to play together.
It’s also crucial to remember that team president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney are in the business of winning hockey games. The former may have a longer leash than the latter, but both know that this industry is unforgiving and job security is an illusion that only lasts if ownership feels like they’re getting what they’re paying for. If we can all agree that this is the case, then it also seems fair to assume that the Bruins’ management team genuinely felt like signing Krejci was a deal that would help them win games; expecting them to commit to a rebuild when that comes with significantly less job security is short-sighted as Jeff Gorton learned despite doing a masterful job with the New York Rangers.
Bruins Getting Production Outside of Krejci’s Return to NHL Action
Zacha was another significant move during the offseason given the fact that the Bruins traded away their No. 2 center at the time to get the deal done. While Erik Haula was likely playing above his ideal role, he came through for the Bruins in a major way last season and deserved every bit of praise he got heading into the offseason. The Bruins, working on bringing back Bergeron and Krejci for at least one last dance while also looking to build towards the future, sold high on Haula’s value and got a high-reward type player in Zacha who provides versatility and makes the team younger.
Zacha has already looked very solid for the Bruins and has the ability to be an impactful player both in the short-term and long-term for the Bruins at just 25 years old.
A more under-the-radar signing for the Bruins this offseason was the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Greer who also spent the past two seasons with the New Jersey Devils at the NHL level, but played the majority of the season with the Utica Comets of the AHL. Scoring 22 goals and 52 points in 53 games last season in the AHL, Greer showed he could finally be ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL after being drafted 39th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Playing on the team’s third line alongside Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic, Greer was able to record a goal and two assists Saturday as the Bruins downed the Coyotes to start the season 2-0-0 despite some major injuries plaguing them early.
It’s early and it would be foolish to expect these players to continually produce points every single game of the season. Still, the Bruins were in dire need of some reinforcements this season with the Stanley Cup window closing quickly and major injuries to Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk hampering them early. This doesn’t even mention the injury to Jake DeBrusk who would suffer an injury in the Bruins’ regular-season opener against the Washington Capitals. Getting this type of production from three of the four new faces in the lineup (Jakub Lauko has yet to produce a point, but the sample size is still small), has been a blessing for the Bruins who truly needed this type of boost to their production.