All the talk so far this offseason has been about the bad contracts that reside on the Boston Bruins roster.
After a down season for the club, almost everyone faced an inquest as to what went wrong. Peter Chiarelli lost his job as general manager allowing former Bruin Don Sweeney to take his place in the big chair.
One of his biggest challenges this summer is creating salary cap flexibility, which Sweeney addressed in his introductory press conference.
“There’s a difference between cap compliance and cap management, and I think we need to be cognizant of the latter rather than the former.”
Bad contracts of the old regime have been the focus of the first six weeks of Boston’s offseason. However, we should also pay homage to the players that have proven to be worthy of their contracts.
For all the chatter of players with poor contracts, here are the ones worth every penny.
Boston’s alternate captain is destined to be the chosen one to wear the “C” when Zdeno Chara is done on Causeway Street.
Patrice Bergeron spent many years as one of the game’s most underrated two-way centers. The 29-year-old is finally starting to get his due. He led the Bruins this season in points (55) and the league in faceoff percentage (60.2). In a down year for the club, Bergeron recorded the sixth 20-goal season of his 11-year career.
In a less-than-shocking development, the three finalists for the Selke are Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews and Anze Kopitar.
— Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin) April 22, 2015
Bergeron is the true definition of a three-zone player. Boston’s second-round pick in 2003 will be the first to tell you he focuses more on preventing goals than scoring them. For that, he was nominated as a Selke Trophy finalist for the fourth successive season, awarded to the best defensive forward in the league. He is looking to complete the Selke hat trick after winning in 2012 and 2014.
Bergeron is set to earn almost $9 million each of the next three seasons. However, his cap hit is $6.875 million until his contract expires in 2022.
It is a no-brainer that a player who persevered through the 2013 Stanley Cup Final with a broken rib, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung deserves to be the second highest-paid player on the club.
Even John Malkovich agrees.
Bergeron’s linemate is another player that is well worth the contract he has been tendered
Brad Marchand is the prototypical “hate to play against but would love to play with” type of player. The 27-year-old forward is one of the biggest pests in the game, yet had another solid season for the Bruins this year. He led the club with 24 goals, his fourth 20-goal campaign in five seasons.
When it came to scoring, Marchand spread the wealth this season. The five-foot-nine-inch winger led the club with 20 even strength goals, two shorthanded markers, three overtime tallies, and five game-winners.
Playing in all situations has paid dividends for Marchand as he remains one of the better pure scorers on the squad.
The “Nose Face Killah” has developed into a consistent 20-25 goal scorer while generating chemistry with Bergeron. Marchand has the potential to be a 30-goal scorer in the league as he begins to enter the prime of his career.
He is due to make $4.5 million next season and $5 million in 2016-17 but only counts $4.5 million against the cap. Marchand’s contract is a bargain for the Bruins.
Boston’s top line has been centered for years by yet another homegrown product.
David Krejci was a second-round pick of the Bruins back in 2004 and has spent his entire career with the organization. He was signed during this season to a six-year contract extension worth $43.5 million, giving him the highest cap number on the team going forward.
Fans might criticize the club for giving Krejci too much money but he has been a consistent producer up top. The 29-year-old is coming off a season in which he played a career-low 47 games due to various injuries, scoring 31 points.
This season was a struggle when he was on the ice due to the lack of a consistent right winger alongside him. However, he has been a steady playmaker for the Bruins in his career scoring more than 60 points four times.
Where Krejci makes his money is in the postseason. In Boston’s two Stanley Cup Final appearances, the playmaker has posted 21 goals and 49 points in 47 games. He led the NHL in goals (12) and points (23) when the Bruins hoisted the Cup in 2011. Krejci has developed a reputation for being one of Boston’s more reliable forwards whether it be in the regular season or the playoffs.
His extension may rub some the wrong way but Krejci’s track record of consistency and big game prowess makes his new contract worth it.
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW