COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: David Krejci
Countdown to camp: David Krejci
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2017-18 Bruins. Today: David Krejci.
David Krejci is at a bit of a crossroads in his Bruins career at 31 years old. The playmaking center matched his career-high with 23 goals last season, but was a little less of a playmaker than usual with 54 points and a minus-12 rating while playing all 82 games last season. He was up-and-down last season and never really felt like the Krejci of old until he flashed some of those skills paired with David Pastrnak down the stretch. He gets a bit of a mulligan for last season because he was coming off hip surgery, but the Bruins need Krejci the frontline center to play like the highest paid player on the Bruins team this season.
What Happened Last Year
Krejci got off to a slow start coming off hip surgery, and also never really clicked with Ryan Spooner and David Backes after the Bruins tried to get a look at them as a potential second line. Krejci never truly got locked into one of his point-producing grooves during the regular season, but did manage to score 23 goals while also playing some of his best hockey down the stretch once he was paired with fellow Czech countryman David Pastrnak. Krejci had his clear issues in the defensive zone as he finished a minus-12 for the season, and wasn’t enough of a positive player on the ice when he was out there. Worse still Krejci was banged up for the postseason and ended up missing games in the first round series against the Ottawa Senators at a time of year when the 31-year-old is usually at his best. The numbers prove out that Krejci was decent enough last season, but they need much more than from one of the core veteran members of the roster.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
Krejci needs to prove he can be the player he was prior to his hip surgery, and prior to winding up on the wrong side of 30 years old after plenty of hard miles logged in his twenties. Last season Krejci wasn’t as effective as in year’s past, and he looked on many nights like he missed having players like Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Loui Eriksson or Jarome Iginla on either side of him. Certainly it perked up the 31-year-old once Pastrnak was moved to his line in February, and that got the best out of a player that was rarely at his best last season. But Krejci needs to show he can still elevate the games of players around him rather than relying on others to do that for him. The 23 goals are certainly good enough if he can repeat that level, but he should be able to easily clear 60 or 70 points in a high octane, up-tempo system implemented by Bruce Cassidy. Krejci is clearly not over the hill at 31 years old, but he needs to use this season to show that he’s still in the prime of a very good NHL career.
In Their Words
“It took me a while to get going after a surgery like [last summer’s hip surgery]. It takes time and maybe around Christmas-time, I started feeling much better. There was no pain or nothing. So, I felt like the second half of the season was much better, and that’s kind of my motivation for next year.” –David Krejci, who will have a full offseason of training and good health to prepare for the upcoming year in Boston after last summer’s hip surgery.
It was an odd year for Krejci coming off a major surgery, and then ending his year with a couple of injuries suffered during the playoffs after he was able to put in a full 82 games during the regular season. He managed to put up a solid 23 goals that was good enough, but he didn’t produce enough points (54), didn’t play good enough defense in his own zone (minus-12), and didn’t make the players on his line markedly better than they already were as forwards. The hope is that Krejci is able to put up a consistently strong season to fortify his role as the No. 2 center on the Bruins, and play a better two-way game for a young defense that’s going to need help from the centers. It’s hard to envision the Bruins trading Krejci given his no-movement clause on a long term deal with a massive price tag, so he’ll need to live up to being the highest paid player ($7.25 million per season) on the club.