Many believed it would happen. But you don’t trade a talented player such as Krejci. You sign him to a long-term deal -- and that’s exactly what the Bruins have done.
Krejci and the Bruins have agreed on a six-year extension worth $43.5 million that will start in 2015-16, a league source confirmed to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun.
When WEEI.com’s DJ Bean first broke the news of Krejci’s new contract on Wednesday, some reaction on social media was that general manager Peter Chiarelli gave Boston’s top-line center too juicy of a deal, especially given that Krejci did not produce a single goal during the team’s 12 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs this past spring.
Despite his four assists and minus-3 rating in the playoffs, Krejci still was effective, and the numbers aren’t a true indication of how well he played.
After the premature exodus after a second-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games, Krejci blamed himself. He didn’t blame his teammates or all the posts the Bruins hit.
Krejci was completely dejected. He admitted to sleepless nights and looked forward to forgetting about hockey for a while. When asked about his pending contract talks with the Bruins, Krejci said he didn’t want to think about it.
Krejci is known for his big-game qualities. He’s at his best when it counts, which is something coach Claude Julien has applauded while trying to get even more out of Krejci over the years.
During Boston’s Cup run in 2011, Krejci had 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 25 games. In 2013, the Bruins reached the finals, and Krejci had nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 22 games.
That’s why this past spring’s postseason scoring drought bothered Krejci so much. Before Game 7 against the Canadiens, he guaranteed he would snap out of his slump and lead the Bruins to the Eastern Conference finals -- and possibly beyond.
It didn’t happen.
Until the postseason, Krejci had enjoyed the most consistent season of his career. The 28-year-old center finished with 19 goals and 50 assists for 69 points in 80 regular-season games. He also led the league with a plus-39 rating.
After hearing how personal he took the postseason loss, his teammates, specifically longtime linemate Milan Lucic, knew it would only motivate Krejci for the 2014-15 season. Now that he can focus on hockey and not be distracted by talks of free agency, expect much of the same -- another big year from Krejci.
The fact is this is a good deal for both the Bruins and Krejci. It keeps Chiarelli’s blueprint for a perennial Cup contender intact.
There’s no denying the core of this team, built on homegrown talent, is the cornerstone of its success. It was a big reason the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011. It was the basis of the Bruins' return to the Cup finals in 2013, and it’s why they will win another championship in the near future, with the likes of Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask and Lucic leading the way.
The Bruins have earned a playoff berth in each of the past seven seasons, and Krejci has been with them since the start of that run. He has evolved into a solid, two-way player with great playmaking abilities. He’s also earned the unofficial title of the league’s most underrated player.
He loves the game, and he hates to lose.
When the Bruins stitched the ‘A’ on his sweater prior to the past season, Krejci felt a strong sense of pride. He isn’t the most vocal player on the team, but he’s one of the most respected, for his leadership skills both on and off the ice. Being named assistant captain was a true indication of his character, and the honor meant a lot to him.
At the start of the offseason, Chiarelli indicated it would be a priority to re-sign Krejci before he reached free agency. Now that the deal is done, the trade rumors can stop because Krejci likely will finish his career as a Bruin, which is the way it should be.