David Krejci was nothing short of sensational for the Boston Bruins a season ago. The veteran center, cast as overrated and overpaid by many in Boston, proved his worth in 2018-19. His 73 points were fourth on the club and tied for the best mark of his lengthy career. He was a second line center who produced at a first line rate. Very few teams in the league got that production from their second center. Krejci was a huge advantage for the Bruins a season ago. Can they count on that production again?
Krejci will have Jake DeBrusk on one wing, we know that for sure. His other winger? Right now it appears to be Karson Kuhlman who gets the first crack at the job. Anders Bjork should not be discounted moving forward, and as a result he will be included in this prediction piece.
Krejci’s career year gave the Bruins a much needed second scoring line a season ago. His 73 points carried the second line, while his 56.3% Corsi For at five-on-five helped push the river for the Bruins. He drove possession, delivered stellar offense and contributed on special teams. No one talks about it, but Krejci enjoyed his best NHL campaign in 2018-19.
DeBrusk, meanwhile, took a step forward in his second full season. Putting together his size, speed and skill, DeBrusk notched 27 goals as the trigger man on Krejci’s left side. DeBrusk is unique in the sense that while he has all of the traits of a power forward, he only racked up 45 hits at even strength a season ago. He plays a heavy game, but doesn’t put the wear and tear on his body. That will help him in the long run.
DeBrusk is an impact goal scorer for the Bruins, and should settle in comfortably around the 30 goal mark in the coming years. He proved last season that he can get there.
Bjork and Kuhlman battled all training camp for the right wing job on this line. Kuhlman, who brings speed and skill, edged out Bjork, who is a natural goal scorer. Kuhlman showed well in a short eleven game stint in 2018-19, accumulating five points (3 g, 2 a) and proving to be a natural fit in the top-six. That likely factored into the decision to keep him around.
His short stint was more productive than any of Bjork’s previous NHL stints. That likely was in the back of Bruce Cassidy’s mind.
As good as Krejci looked a season ago, it is unfair to expect him to repeat those results. Krejci is a very good player, but everything went right a season ago for this line. Prior to 2018-19, Krejci tallied 63, 54 and 44 points. He’s better than his 44 points in 2017-18 indicate, and is likely closer to a 55-60 point player. That is still outstanding second line production.
DeBrusk should be expected to take yet another step forward in the goal scoring department. Is this the year he hits 30? It’s certainly trending that way. DeBrusk brings that unique ability to impact the game with both his skill and physical presence. In a division loaded with smaller forwards and skilled defensemen, he should thrive.
Kuhlman and Bjork will be interesting to monitor this coming season. Although Kuhlman has won the job to start the season, it’s reasonable to expect that Bjork will get a shot at some point in 2019-20. Eventually, the Bruins need to see what they have with this gifted goal scorer. Will it be a time split? Don’t count on it, but expect Bjork to get at least a handful of games in this spot.
David Krejci Official Prediction: 75 GP, 19 Goals, 45 Assists, 64 Points, +8, 17:22 TOI
Jake DeBrusk Official Prediction: 80 GP, 32 Goals, 17 Assists, 49 Points, +6, 16:37 TOI
Karson Kuhlman Official Prediction: 42 GP, 6 Goals, 12 Assists, 18 Points, +1, 14:11 TOI
Anders Bjork Official Prediction: 34 GP, 7 Goals, 4 Assists, 11 Points, EV, 13:58 TOI