Bruins Could Benefit From Krejci Return But Still Need Youth At Center

News and rumors have been running rampant in Boston for the past week. There’s the report from Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette that Patrice Bergeron will be signing a one-year contract with the Bruins. Jim Montgomery is now the head coach of the Bruins. Finally, rumors have started popping up about David Krejci potentially being interested in returning to Boston.

While nothing is concrete to the rumors and they’ve been sprouting up periodically all year, it would certainly be an incredibly fortunate turn for the Bruins to get back both Krejci and Bergeron this offseason after what was starting to look like a very bleak 2022-23 roster, particularly at the center position. Both are miles above any in house options to replace them and anyone they would be able to get through free agency. 

Related: Bruins: 2 UFAs to Pursue & 2 to Avoid in Free Agency

Still the work for the Bruins this offseason cannot end with just bringing back Bergeron and Krejci. General manager (GM) Don Sweeney still has his work cut out for him as both players provide a great solution to the pressing issues facing them going into 2022-23, but neither will be a long-term solution to their lack of center depth in the pipeline.

One Last Ride for the Old Guard

Bringing the gang back together, especially when they’re still playing as well as they are, is never a bad idea. Bergeron is coming off of a record-setting fifth Selke Trophy win and 65 points in 73 games in 2022-23. Krejci is coming off 46 points in 51 games for HC Olomouc in the Czech league. He also played in 18 games internationally for the Czech in 2022-23, registering 18 points, including five goals. Rounding out the old guard that remains on the roster is Brad Marchand, who once again led the Bruins in points in 2022-23 with 80 in 70 games. 

Patrice Bergeron Brad Marchand Boston Bruins Celebrate
Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins celebrate a goal (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

I don’t think there is a single person in Boston who wouldn’t love to see the Bruins try for another Cup for these guys one last time. It will certainly be an uphill battle with the injury situation and the level of competition in the Atlantic Division, but bringing back Krejci at center would certainly make this a much more competitive team than they were in 2021-22. His presence instantly makes this a better team. 

It would also just be fun for the fan base to watch them all play together again, and after the anger around Bruce Cassidy’s firing, management desperately needs something to get back into the good graces of fans. 

A return of Krejci would generate positive ripple effects throughout the whole roster. In just 16 games together, he and Taylor Hall outscored opponents 14-1. This would also upgrade the third line as Erik Haula would most likely slot in there and Charlie Coyle could be pushed out to the wing, which is probably a better spot for him to be in. If he wants David Pastrnak on his wing, go for it as this past season showed that the perfection line can be split up and the three of them can still find success.

There is no reason not to bring Krejci back if he does in fact want to return to Boston. However, Sweeney’s work this offseason can’t end there.

Future Bruins Center Must Be Found This Offseason

I’ve said it before, but the Bruins have a really decent future core in the works. Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, and Jeremy Swayman have all proved their NHL worth in their young careers. Both McAvoy and Lindholm are also signed to long-term contracts already. In addition, Fabian Lysell, their 2021 first-round pick, is coming off of a phenomenal season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with 62 points in 53 games, including 22 goals. It’s only a matter of time until he’s ready for the NHL as well. Now, what they really need is a center. 

None of their current centers are long-term options. Bergeron is turning 37 this year. If David Krejci returns, he’s 36. Below them in the depth chart is Haula, who is only under contract for one more year and is 31, Coyle, and Tomas Nosek, who didn’t make much of an impression in his first year on the Bruins. 

Even if Bergeron and Krejci return, the focus this summer still needs to be on either drafting a decent center prospect or trading for one. As a reminder, the Bruins do not have their first-round pick, but there are still good options available for them in the second round that can be developed into elite talent. Who can forget, both Bergeron and Krejci were second-round picks and they carried this team at the center position for a decade.

Sweeney does not have a history of drafting well and will have an increased focus on him this year given his recent contract extension and the negative reactions it received from the Boston fan base. All eyes in Bruins management should be on the draft and figuring out a long-term solution at center.

Summer of Crossroads for Bruins

The championship window for the Bruins has been rapidly closing in the last few seasons. When they first got eliminated, it was looking like it might finally be closed. If Krejci also signs on for another season in addition to Bergeron, they might be able to keep the window propped open just a bit longer. 

Boston Bruins David Krejci
Boston Bruins David Krejci (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

But they can’t just be focusing on the upcoming 2022-23 season. Even with Bergeron and Krejci, this team still has issues that need to be addressed on the current roster, and it doesn’t solve the biggest concern around the future of the center position beyond this upcoming season. While they have guys in place to build a future championship team around, they still need someone to play down the middle.

Related: Ranking Boston Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney’s Top 5 Trades

The Bruins still need to start committing to getting more youth onto their current roster and focus on having a good draft and putting together a good trade package for Jake DeBrusk (if he still wants out of Boston). A return of Krejci to Boston would prevent this upcoming season from falling into complete ruin, but it can’t distract management from planning for a future beyond the fantastic, but aging core that carried this team for over a decade. 

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