It looks like the Boston Bruins are going to avoid their one and only salary arbitration case this offseason.
The B’s and restricted free agent defenseman Matt Grzelcyk are “very close” to closing on a deal that would avoid the Oct. 20 arbitration hearing set to take place on the very first day of arbitration hearings between NHL players and their respective teams.
The 26-year-old Grzelcyk finds himself at an ideal time for a new deal after a 2019-20 season that featured career-highs in nearly every category for the Charlestown native. Gryz played in a career-high 68 games during the COVID-shortened regular season, and set career-high marks in goals (four), assists (17), points (21), power-play points (seven), plus-minus (plus-15), and shots on goal (112) for the Black and Gold.
Coming off a two-year contract that paid the former BU standout $1.4 million per season, Grzelcyk is probably in line to command at least double that in average annual value when the negotiations finally end in a deal.
While a very different kind of player, the $3.2 million AAV paid out for Nikita Zadarov for next season might end up being a comparable to Grzelcyk given that their numbers aren’t all that different from each other. That being said, one would expect any contract between the Boston Bruins and Grzelcyk is going to go beyond the 1-2 year deals that a player is allowed to seek out in arbitration, and could be something closer to the three-year, $9 million neighborhood when it’s all said and done.
With Torey Krug out the door after signing a seven year contract with the St. Louis Blues and Zdeno Chara unsigned more than a week into free agency, there’s a very real possibility Grzelcyk will end up in a top pairing role with former BU teammate Charlie McAvoy entering the 20-21 regular season. It’s part of a youth movement transpiring on Boston’s back end. Certainly, it sounds like the Boston Bruins power play plan will be for McAvoy and Grzelcyk to man the points as they hope to replace the offensive production that left for St. Louis when Krug signed elsewhere. Grzelcyk did a nice job in spots last season spelling the injured Krug and has done quite a bit of work to improve the accuracy and velocity of shot from the point to make it more of a scoring weapon.