The Bear Cave

June 4, 2009 7:22 AM

Krejci Stays in Boston

While most of the attention in the hockey world has been focused on two exciting championship series in the NHL and AHL, fans in New England got some pleasant news this week. On Tuesday, the Boston Bruins announced that they had signed forward David Krejci to a multi-year extension. The contract is for three years and $11.25 million. Krejci will make $3.5 million this coming year, $3.75 million in 2010-11, and $4 million in 2011-12.

2008-09 was a breakout season for David Krejci. Entering the year, Krejci had parts of two years and a total of 69 games (including playoffs) at the NHL level on his resume. This past season, the 23-year old played in all 82 regular season games, scoring 22 goals, 51 assists, and 73 points. The 73 points placed him in second on the team in scoring, trailing only Marc Savard, who led the way with 88. Krejci followed that up with an up-and-down postseason. In the opening round against Montreal, he picked up two goals and three assists for five points in only four games. In round two against Carolina, he was only able to dish out three assists, giving him a grand total of eight points in 11 playoff games.

The native of the Czech Republic has been a member of the Boston Bruins since breaking into North American hockey. In the summer of 2004, Krejci was selected by Boston with the 63rd overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft. After that, he spent two seasons playing for the QMJHL's Gatineau Olympiques, registering 49 goals, 95 assists, and 144 points in 117 games.

Following his success in juniors, Krejci opted to join the Providence Bruins as a 20-year old at the start of the 2006-07 campaign. That ended up being an intelligent decision, as teams around the AHL quickly found out about his potential. In 69 games as a Baby B, Krejci had 31 goals and 43 assists for 74 points. His production earned him a brief six-game stint in Boston.

2007-08 was an interesting season for one of Boston's younger forwards. Krejci began the season with the big club, but ran into a bit of a wall in the early part of the season. That led to some time in Providence, where he clicked for seven goals and 21 assists in 25 games. When he arrived back at the TD Banknorth Garden, Krejci was much more comfortable. That season, he finished with 27 points in 56 games, leading to the success this past year.

Because of his emergence onto the scene as one of the top young centers in the NHL, the signing of David Krejci was one of the elements on the top of Boston's list. Although it may be challenging to fit both he and Phil Kessel under the salary cap, the Bruins know that they now have one of their better playmakers locked up for the next three seasons. After seeing Krejci rake in a mere $825,000 last season, the $11.25 million pill may be tough to swallow for some followers of the team. However, if the two sides had waited until July 1st or later, that number could have become even higher.

Speaking of numbers, Krejci's signing brings the Bruins current cap hit up to a little under $48.3 million. If the salary cap stays the same at $56.7 million, that means Boston has approximately $8.4 million left to spend. That number currently covers 15 players (one goalie, five defensemen, nine forwards) from the final game in Carolina, meaning that the team will need to find a way to fill somewhere between six and eight roster spots at the NHL level.

Looking at what might happen, the Bruins currently have nine free agents. Byron Bitz, Matt Hunwick, and Phil Kessel fit into the restricted category, while PJ Axelsson, Manny Fernandez, Shane Hnidy, Steve Montador, Mark Recchi, and Stephane Yelle are all unrestricted. Fernandez has likely seen his last day as a Boston netminder, leading to Tuukka Rask as the backup for Tim Thomas. If that is the case, Rask would at $850,000 to the number above.

Along with Rask, a few of the roster spots could be filled by players who spent this past season in the AHL with the Providence Bruins. Vladimir Sobotka is the top candidate out of the bunch, while Brad Marchand and Mikko Lehtonen are each in the running after solid rookie campaigns. Jeff Penner might get an extra look on the blueline as well, as he was one of the final defensemen cut at the end of training camp this past year.

With the draft and July 1st each less than one month away, David Krejci's signing should hopefully be the beginning of some positive offseason decisions by the Boston Bruins.

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