The offseason is still young, but already, it is proving to be an interesting one. From a number of big trades, major signings, contract buyouts, and an expansion draft, that albeit, was pretty underwhelming, it seems that there has been a new headline every day for hockey fans to digest. Of course, not all of the headlines have been the ones you want to see associated with hockey.
So far, the Boston Bruins have been very quiet. They lost Jeremy Lauzon to the Seattle Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft, which will require a replacement on their left side on defense. They were said to be in on Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but the Arizona Coyotes eventually shipped both players north of the border to the Vancouver Canucks. They had a decent draft highlighted by the selection of Fabian Lysell at 21st overall.
The biggest news for the Bruins so far has been the re-signing of Taylor Hall, which was a must for the team going into the offseason. Given the astronomical signings of so many players so far, getting him for four years and an average annual value (AAV) of $6 million looks like a big win for the organization. We’ll have to wait and see if it really turns out to be as good as we think at this moment.
With Hall secured, it’s now time for the Bruins’ management to turn their focus to re-signing David Krejci. The 35-year-old is coming off of a six-year deal with an AAV of $7.25 million. For the past few seasons, he has been the highest-paid player on the roster. His next contract won’t be near that nor should it, but bringing him back should be a priority for general manager Don Sweeney as we approach the start of free agency.
Why Should Krejci Be Re-Signed?
Krejci has been a Bruin for the entirety of his 15 years in the league and has been a valuable cornerstone of the organization for the past decade. His postseason performances have played huge roles in the team’s Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 2011, 2013, and 2019. It was “Playoff Krejci” that propelled him to that $43.5 million contract.
In the past few seasons, management has been unable to surround Krejci with consistent talent. He’s had a rotating cast of wings. Until April 2021, none of them had really worked out. Jake DeBrusk seemed to have a solid spot on his left side until he hit a well-publicized rough spot this season. Ondrej Kase was supposed to be a solution for the hole on the ride side, but it didn’t work out due to injuries. Neither did Rick Nash, David Backes, Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, Ryan Spooner, Loui Eriksson, or a number of other players over the years.
Even with so much inconsistency, Krejci himself has managed to continue to be a contributor on the offense even when those around him are not. This past season, he had 44 points in 51 games. Only two seasons ago, he had 73 points in 81 games in the 2018-19 season. Coincidentally that was also the season his linemate DeBrusk reached 27 goals. His scoring took a bit of a hit this past season, but overall, his on-ice product is still at a high level and for a team that has struggled to score points at times, getting rid of your fourth-highest scorer doesn’t seem like a great idea at this juncture, especially when you consider there was a 12-point difference between him, and the fifth-place scorer, Craig Smith.
They have finally found consistent linemates for Krejci in Hall and Smith. After Hall’s arrival in April, the three of them went on an absolute tear. Their instant chemistry propelled Boston into third in the division.
Letting Krejci walk now would be a mistake. He has put in the time and deserves a chance to play with good linemates for a full season. At 35, he hasn’t dropped off the ledge enough to warrant the Bruins letting him go. There also isn’t enough talent in the system to replace him as the second-line center. Charlie Coyle is coming off of an off-year and is probably better in the bottom six. Jack Studnicka is the best center prospect they have, but given what we saw last year, I don’t think anyone is convinced he’s ready to center that line yet.
The Bruins could go out and sign a second-line center to replace Krejci in free agency, but, they need to sign or trade for at least two defensemen and potentially a goaltender. Re-signing Krejci would create one less unknown and challenge for Sweeney. He’s a known talent, a leader in the locker room, and still playing at a high level of talent.
What Should His Contract Be?
Krejci should not have the highest cap hit on the Bruins, as he has in the past few seasons. The team has lucked out in recent years with team-friendly deals for Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. They also need to be careful with their contracts this season knowing Charlie McAvoy is going to be a restricted free agent next year. Given recent contracts to Cale Makar and Seth Jones, he’s going to be looking for a contract with an AAV of at least $8 million.
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In terms of years, Krejci’s next contract should be in the two to three-year range. While he’s still playing at a high level, he is 35 and there could be a drop-off at any time. Committing too many years to him at this point would not be advisable.
When the season ended, Krejci expressed his desire to stay in Boston and that his next deal isn’t going to be focused on money. Still, the Bruins have worked themselves into a bit of a hole given that they signed Coyle to a deal with an AAV of $5.25 million. An ideal contract for Krejci would have an AAV of $4-5 million. It would be team-friendly and help them give some wiggle room to bring in some more depth pieces on forward.
Krejci finished with the same amount of points this season as Tyler Toffoli and Jonathan Marchessault, who are signed to contracts with an AAV of $4.25 million and $5 million. This gives further evidence as to why a three-year deal worth $12-15 million would be fair.
But, it would be hard to reconcile paying him less than Coyle. So my guess is that in the end, Krejci will end up signing a three-year, $16.5 million with an AAV of $5.5 million. It’s maybe a little more than ideal, but it would still save the team money from his last contract.
Comment below what you think. Should the Bruins re-sign Krejci and what do you think his contract will be?
I’m Hannah Garfield, a graduate of Elon University with degrees in Film and Media Analytics. Currently, I’m pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting at Boston University. I’m a lifelong, passionate Boston sports fan and love all things Bruins.