As reported here on June 15, for the second straight summer, Boston Bruins center David Krejci’s name is circulating around the trade rumor circuit. The belief around the league is that like Nashville Predators general manager David Poile just did in trading defenseman P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils to shed salary, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will need to move Krejci or another sizable contract to do the same.
Like Poile has with his captain and top defenseman Roman Josi, Sweeney has a key defenseman in Torey Krug, who is entering the final season of his four-year deal he signed back on June 30, 2016. With restricted free agent defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy up for contracts July 1, as well as forwards Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari headed for unrestricted free agency the same day. He also must sign forwards Jake DeBrusk (RFA) and Charlie Coyle (UFA) next season. That’s why, while Sweeney, for the second straight summer, is trying to move the two seasons at $6 million per left on David Backes contract, multiple NHL sources confirmed to Boston Hockey Now again Monday, that for the second straight NHL Draft, there was considerable chatter surrounding Krejci, 33, who has two seasons at $7.2 million per left on his current contract.
A year ago, as the unrestricted free agency interview period began, the Bruins were on the list of teams that John Tavares, the highest profile UFA to hit the market in the salary cap era, wanted to meet with before officially hitting free agency on July 1. As a result, the Bruins began to put contingency plans in place, just in case they were actually able to convince Tavares to sign with them long term and one of those plans included trading Krejci if Sweeney was unable to unload Backes’ contract. Many around the NHL felt that Tavares was simply doing his due diligence and would eventually sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs as he did for $77 million over seven years, but Sweeney was still able to make a formal pitch to the star center. If by some miracle, he was able to sign Tavares, there was a prevalent feeling around the team – including with Krejci himself – that the Czech pivot would not have been back in Black and Gold this past season.
Unlike last year at this time though, Krejci is coming off his best season since his second in the NHL. He had 20 goals and 53 assists in 81 games and was able to match the 73 points he amassed in 82 games during the 2008-09 season. Krejci had a subpar playoff season with 12 assists and 16 points in 24 games, but league sources still insist his value hasn’t been this high since he finished the 2013-14 season with 69 points. According to one team source, Sweeney’s top priority right now is to lock up McAvoy and Carlo and then if he can, and if Krug is willing to take a discount for the only NHL team he’s ever played for and the one that gave him a chance signing him as an undrafted free agent in March 2012, sign the backbone of his powerplay to an extension.
The main question now though, is how does the new GM Of The Year pull all that off with just $12 million in cap space? As it would’ve been had the Bruins locked up Tavares last July 1 and while it’s not Sweeney’s preference, trading Krejci may end up being the ultimate solution.