David Krejci Extension With the Boston Bruins Is A Win-Win

Last Thursday, the Bruins announced that they had signed David Krejci to a six-year, $43 million contract extension to keep the team’s top center in town through the 2020-2021 season. The extension, which is set to kick in next season, will make Krejci the highest paid player on the Bruins with an annual cap hit of $7.25 million. There is no question that Krejci has been one of team’s top performers, but should he be the team’s highest paid player?

Regular Season Production

Over the last three seasons, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have been the top two forwards in average time on ice per game for the Bruins. After finishing a close second, in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, Krejci led all Boston forwards in time on ice. Krejci has certainly made the most of his ice time, finishing among the top three Bruins in points in each of the last three seasons, most notably leading the team in assists and points last year. As impressive as his performance has been over the last three seasons, throughout his career, he has never been a point per game player across an entire season. To put that in perspective, only two forwards with a cap hit of $7 million or more (this year) have never produced a point per game season, those two being Rick Nash and Paul Stastny. If this leaves you wanting more, Krejci has more than shown his worth in the postseason.

Playoff Production

As you probably already know, the Bruins have been to two of the last four Stanley Cup Finals. In Boston’s two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, David Krejci led the NHL in points, including putting up 26 points in 22 playoff games in 2013-2014 (for an impressive 1.18 points per game). For better or worse, as Krejci’s offense goes, so too have gone the Bruins. Last season, Krejci and linemates Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla combined for 18 points over 12 playoffs games, as Boston was bounced from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Three years ago, when the Bruins were eliminated in the first round, Krejci was only able to produce three points in the seven game series with the Washington Capitals. While his offensive production has been stellar in two of the last four years, his coach, Claude Julien, has shown the utmost confidence in Krejci, giving him the most ice time of all Bruins forwards over the last four playoff runs. Having signed Krejci to a long-term extension, the hope (and expectation) is that Krejci can find a way to consistently achieve success in the playoffs and, in the process, help bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.

So between his ice time and offensive production, does Krejci deserve to be the highest paid Boston Bruin? Does his offensive production outweigh the offensive and defensive contributions of Patrice Bergeron? Or the defensive dominance of Zdeno Chara? How about the Vezina worthy goaltending of Tuukka Rask? In my opinion, Krejci deserved to get paid, but more in line with these three, somewhere in the range of $6.5-$7.0 million per. Hopefully he can prove me wrong. What do you think? Did the Bruins overpay? Would Krejci have made more on the open market?


Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars Both Winners in Seguin Trade

The Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars gave hockey fans a reason to pause their Fourth of July celebrations by completing a seven-player blockbuster trade highlighted by star forwards Tyler Seguin and Loui Eriksson.

TSN’s Darren Dreger first reported the entire deal, which was completed afterEriksson and Rich Peverley waived their no-trade clauses. It includes forwards Reilly Smith, Mark Fraser, Eriksson and defenseman Joe Morrow going from Dallas to Boston in exchange for defenseman Ryan Button and forwards Seguin and Peverley.

This is a great trade for both teams because it allows them to upgrade certain weaknesses right now and also have important assets for future success.

At first glance, it looks like a bold move by the Bruins because giving up on an ultra-talented forward of Seguin’s caliber is a risk. The former No. 2 overall draft pick led the team in scoring during the 2011-12 season with 67 points and finished the 2013 season with a respectable 32 points in 48 games.

The most disappointing part of his brief career in Boston was his lackluster performance in the playoffs. Since a breakout four-point second period in Game 2 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Final, Seguin tallied just 12 points in his last 40 playoff games. He failed to find the back of the net in Boston’s last 11 playoff games of 2013.

With that said, his playmaking and goal-scoring skills are phenomenal, and he will significantly upgrade the talent and overall speed of the Stars offense. Dallas desperately needed additional depth at the center position, which was a huge weakness of the team last season.

Seguin wasn’t able to play center in Boston because of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejciand Chris Kelly being on the roster, but he will finally be able to play in his natural position as a member of the Stars. Seguin’s arrival will also allow superstar forward Jamie Benn to play on the wing in Dallas, which is where he’s most comfortable.

The young forward will also benefit from the leadership and wisdom of MarkRecchi, who was a teammate of Seguin’s in Boston during the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup title run and is now a member of the Stars’ front office.

The acquisition of Peverley brings great speed, excellent penalty killing and versatility to the Dallas lineup with his ability to play center or on the wing.

Peverley will also help the Stars improve on faceoffs, where they ranked 27th last year with a weak 47.1 percent success rate. He finished eighth in faceoff percentage (58.4) among all players who took 250 or more draws last season.

As for Boston, this is a win-now type of move for a team coming off a six-game defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

The two most notable players coming to Boston are Eriksson, who is one of the league’s most underrated and durable players, as well as top prospect Joe Morrow, a defenseman who was a first-round pick in 2011.

Hi-res-166238737_crop_exactRonald Martinez/Getty Images

Eriksson is only 27 years old and has tallied 63-plus points (including an average of 29.5 goals) in the last four non-lockout seasons. The Swedish forward finished 2013 with 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 48 games.

He’s a better fit in Boston’s rigid, defensive style of hockey than Seguin because of his impressive stick work, willingness to play physical and strong penalty-killing ability. Unlike Seguin, Eriksson will go to the dirty areas and win puck battles consistently. He’s also a phenomenal skater and protects the puck well.

Another benefit of acquiring Eriksson is the team-friendly $4.25 million salary cap hit in his contract, which doesn’t expire until after the 2015-16 season, per CapGeek.

Taking on this deal and getting rid of Seguin’s six-year, $34 million contract (which begins in 2013-14) along with the other salary involved in this trade results in the Bruins having just over $9 million in salary cap space. This will allow general manager Peter Chiarellito re-sign star goaltender Tuukka Rask (anRFA) and make one more significant upgrade to his roster in free agency or via the trade market.

Morrow is a high-end prospect with impressive offensive ability. He projects to be a top-four NHL defenseman and will compete with young Bruins blueliners Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski for ice time next season.

This is the second time he’s been traded since January. He was also dealt from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stars in the Brenden Morrow deal from late March. Is the 20-year-old in high demand or is there a concern among teams that is causing him to be traded? We will soon find out, but there’s no question that he has impressive skill and potential.

Hi-res-117271888_crop_exactNick Laham/Getty Images
Joe Morrow

After all the analysis, I believe both teams will be improved next year and in the future because of this deal.

The Stars have acquired an elite talent in Seguin, who could be a franchise cornerstone player along with Benn for a decade or more. Acquiring Peverley also gives Dallas valuable depth, versatility, faceoff skill and championship experience.

The Bruins have upgraded their depth on the wing by adding Eriksson, which gives them another two-way top-six forward capable of shining on special teams. The acquisition of Morrow strengthens Boston’s prospect pool with another talented young defenseman.

It will take many years to accurately judge who ultimately won this blockbuster trade, but one thing we already know is that the Bruins and Stars are both committed to making bold moves to ensure success right now and well into the future.

Patrice Bergeron’s Injuries Highlight Hockey Players’ Remarkable Toughness

There are few certainties in sports, but one thing that fans can have faith in is the toughness of NHL players.

We are not here to denigrate baseball or basketball players, and we are certainly not going to question the dedication and toughness of NFL players, who go through violent collisions on nearly every play.

But hockey players are off-the-charts tough. We know that they tend to play with pain, but the latest revelations involving Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins are likely to make your head spin.

Bergeron was an ongoing concern throughout the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Through the first four games, he scored four goals, including three on the power play. But in Game 5, Bergeron suddenly slowed down in his skating and retreated to the Boston bench in the first period. He tried to give it a go in the second period, but he was unable to play.

Then came the news that he was taken to a Chicago hospital, with rumors that he had an injury to his spleen.

After that game, Bergeron flew home with the Bruins and head coach Claude Julien said that Bergeron would play in the sixth game. He played hard in the Stanley Cup-clinching game for the Blackhawks, but he was not at his best.

Boston fans didn’t know it beforehand, but Bergeron played with a broken rib and torn cartilage. During the sixth game, he also suffered a separated shoulder. It was also revealed that he sustained a small puncture in his lung, which Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports was caused by the fractured rib or a nerve-blocking injection.

Bergeron remains in the hospital. He may be near or at the top of the charts when it comes to playing with injuries, but he has plenty of company.


In the final series, Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks “got his bell rung” in the fifth game, yet he played effectively and decisively in the sixth game. He scored a goal and made the pass to Bryan Bickell that set up the tying goal with 1:16 to play.

In that same game, Andrew Shaw got hit in the face with a Shawn Thornton slap shot in the first period, which deflected into his jaw. He was down on the ice as if he had been hit with a Joe Frazier left hook. Shaw came back with two sets of stitches—one near his eye and one on his cheek—and was a force throughout the game.

Marian Hossa missed Game 3 and then came back to play the final three games of the series. After the series was over, Hossa revealed that his right foot was numb as a result of a back injury.

Bruins right winger Nathan Horton played with a dislocated left shoulder, which will require surgery.

It’s not just this year’s Stanley Cup Final, either. There are a litany of injury stories that are associated with playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

In the 2010 postseason, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith was hit in the mouth by the puck in a Western Conference Final game against the San Jose Sharks. He lost seven teeth because of the impact, but he came back to play in the same game.

The Los Angeles Kings had a slew of injuries in this year’s conference finals against the Blackhawks. Mike Richards (concussion) returned to play in the fifth game and score the tying goal that sent the game into overtime. Justin Williams (separated shoulder), Drew Doughty (ankle) and captain Dustin Brown (posterior cruciate knee ligament tear) all played despite their injuries, according to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times.

Earlier in the playoffs, Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks played the team’s first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings with a torn ligament in his right knee. Beauchemin underwent surgery after the series, but he played with the injury for a month, according to The Sporting News.

Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks provided the hockey player’s credo when he was sent tumbling into the boards by Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings in the second period of Game 3 of the conference semifinal series. Couture picked himself up and went into the locker room, but he played the third period and overtime. He scored the game-winning goal for the Sharks in the extra session.

“It’s playoffs. Everyone plays through injuries. The four years I’ve been here, I’ve seen guys play through a lot of injuries,” Couture told David Pollak of the Contra Costa Times. “Stanley Cup is what you’re playing for. Whatever it takes.”

There you have it. Couture identified the sense of commitment that hockey players have when pursuing the NHL’s ultimate prize.

Athletes in other sports may have it as well, but it seems to be universal in hockey players.