Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney told the media Friday that the door is still open for David Krejci to return and play for the Boston Bruins again.
“I think we addressed some areas that we wanted to,” Sweeney said. “Ultimately, with David making the decision. …We’re wondering whether or not he may return at some point in time, but that’s open-ended.”
Sweeney also addressed the future of captain Patrice Bergeron, who is entering the final season of an eight-year contract that carries a $6.8 million contract.
“Patrice and Kent Hughes, his representative, and I have discussions about where he’s at and we’ll keep those private as we do with all the others, and let him decide what path he wants to take,” Sweeney replied when asked if contract talks had begun yet. “Obviously it’s completely open-door on how long Patrice wants to play the game for us and we’ll leave it at that.”
Just a week ago, Krejci, 35, announced that he would not be re-signing with the Boston Bruins and would not continue to play in the NHL. Citing family reasons, Krejci decided to return home to play in the Czech Republic.
“Since the end of the season, as I have thought about my future, it has become clear that I need to make a difficult decision for my family and I,” Krejci said in a press release on July 30. At this point in my career and life I need to return to the Czech Republic and play in front of my family who sacrificed so much to help me achieve my NHL dreams.”
The Krejci departure left a gigantic hole up the middle as the Boston Bruins now need to fill their 2C slot that Krejci has occupied for so long. Sweeney addressed that committee style in NHL Free Agency on July 28 signing forwards Erik Haula, Nick Foligno, and Tomas Nosek.
“Ultimately you’re going to face it at some point in time when players do age out and move on and in David’s case, he chose to address the family situation,” Sweeney said. “So, yeah there’s always a little level of exposure and fear that you might not be deep enough. Again, we tried to address it in free agency and bringing in players that can play several positions and the guys are excited because ultimately that’s the route we had to take and the results will dictate whether or not we’re going to do it well enough.”
Sweeney addressed the lack of center depth organizationally more than once Friday.
“Well fortunately we still have a No.1 center in Patrice and the level that he upholds,” Sweeney replied. “Then it’s gotta be by committee and growth. Obviously, we got Jack [Studnicka] there and if we can’t do it internally then obviously we’re gonna have to look externally. It’s an important position and we even identified through the draft with [Brett] Harrison and you have to have strength up the middle of the ice. A lot of professional sports teams will identify that and we’re no different in that regard. You’re never comfortable unless you just have a wealth of talent and drafted extremely well.”
On Thursday, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that for now, center Charlie Coyle is Krejci’s heir apparent.
“The obvious choice is Charlie Coyle. He’s the most familiar with our guys and I’m the most familiar with him, and that would allow the other guys to fall into place. I know [Erik] Haula and [Tomas] Nosek prefer to play in the middle,” Cassidy said. “Nick Foligno is a little more of a guy that will move around, so that’s probably how it will play out for him. So, it’s Charlie and Taylor Hall [on the second line], and [Craig] Smith was on that line last year. So, if Coyle can bring some of what [David Krejci] did then that’s going to be a really good line.
As reported here on Thursday, the NHL trade market has died down over the last week. The Boston Bruins were heavily engaged in trade talks at the NHL Draft and heading into NHL free agency. Sweeney intends to keep monitoring the market as the 2021-22 season grows closer but for now, he and the team will see how the current product pans out.
“We’re constantly exploring options in conversations,” Sweeney said. “You know the trade situation sort of died down a little bit after free agency. Everybody sort of evaluates where there at but there had been some ongoing prior to that and we’ll continue to explore and if we can improve our roster, we’re going to. But we certainly addressed some needs and we have some younger players that want to continue to vie for spots and opportunity. I don’t think any team thinks they’re a finished product sitting here in August.”