While unrestricted free agent center David Krejci has made it abundantly clear that if he returns for his 15th NHL season, it will only be to play for the Boston Bruins, that hasn’t stopped other teams from inquiring.
Through multiple NHL sources, Boston Hockey Now has learned that the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Colorado Avalanche have all at least looked into what the 35-year-old center is thinking about his future. All five teams have let it be known that if Krejci does decide to play in the 2021-22 NHL regular season, they would love to make a pitch should he change his mind and test the market.
“From what I was told, as I’m sure you were too, it’s either Bruins or the Czech Republic or he retires,” an NHL source, not working for any of those five teams listed above, told BHN Thursday. “But still, a team in need of a top 6 center isn’t doing their job if they don’t at least look into it.”
Numerous emails from BHN to Krejci’s agent Robert Hooper over the last couple of weeks have not been returned and that’s completely understandable because it appears that for now, David Krejci is doing some serious soul-searching as he navigates his future with his family.
On Wednesday, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told the media that there is no timeline on when David Krejci will let the Bruins know if he will re-up with them or even ponder inking another NHL contract.
“David and I have communicated pretty consistently over the last little while. Nothing has changed on that front. He has his own reasons, and he’s gonna keep those private as am I,” Sweeney told reporters in a Zoom call on Wednesday. “In terms of what his timeline is … we’ve left things completely open-ended about him possibly returning to play for us. So it’s not a definitive timeline. As you can see from several of the signings and the approach we took that the center ice position (is) a little bit by a committee that we’re gonna have to do that and allow some players to get into some spots and hopefully perform to the level they’re capable of.”
Just 24 hours prior to that, a report surfaced that the Bruins and Krejci were on the verge of putting pen to paper by the tike NHL free agency began at noon on Wednesday. That of course never happened and Sweeney proceeded to go on a free agent spending spree signing five new players and re-signing defenseman Mike Reilly. When all was said and done, the Bruins finished the first day of NHL free agency with just $1.6 million to still spend in NHL free agency or on the NHL trade market.
That presents a problem if and when David Krejci decides to return to the Bruins for a 15th season. Unless Sweeney find cap space before then, he will need to make a trade to accommodate what is expected to be at least a $5.5-6 million cap hit for Krejci, likely on a one-year deal. Krejci is coming off a six-year contract that carried a $7.2 million contract. One could easily argue that it would behoove Sweeney to potentially trade a player like Jake DeBrusk ($3.6 million cap hit), who with the signings of Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek, and Erik Haula is now expendable. Sweeney will need to have his ducks in a row to not allow David Krejci any time to be tempted by what else is out there in free agency.