Let’s make this as clear we can.
It should be the end of the line for an underachieving Peter Cehlarik and the Boston Bruins.
The 24-year-old Cehlarik managed to appear in just three NHL games in Boston this season while the B's were actively searching for a top-9 winger who could bring some size, strength and offense to their lineup. That should tell you all you need to know about what the organization's evaluation is for a Bruins player who was once considered one of their top forward prospects.
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On paper, Boston’s top-9 wingers this season could have — or should have — included Cehlarik given that the Bruins prospect is 6-foot-2, 202-pounds and had posted 16 goals and 37 points in 48 games with Providence this season.
He has never been overly physical by any means, but he had displayed flashes while posting five goals and 10 points in 37 games for Boston headed into this season.
This year really appeared to be end of the road for him, however, as Cehlarik managed just the three games and hadn’t appeared at the NHL level since November. It was clear there wasn’t much trust in his game, and even when he did get chances at the NHL level this season, he only managed one assist, zero shots on net and a minus-1 in those three games, making zero impact.
Once the Bruins traded for Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie at the NHL trade deadline, it seemed very clear that Cehlarik wouldn’t be getting any more chances in Boston again anytime soon.
Cehlarik has given a few interviews in Slovakia since coming back from the NHL with the regular season on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak, and it sounds like the player thinks there’s a trust issue with head coach Bruce Cassidy. It also sounds like Cehlarik had designs on exploring things as a restricted free agent elsewhere prior to eventually re-signing with the Bruins last summer — and now he wants a fresh start somewhere else.
"I also feel like I have been working with the same people for four years and I can't cross the line to convince Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy permanently. Sometimes I felt like he was just waiting for my mistake and could send me back to the farm,” said Cehlarik, per a Google translation of the Slovakian article. “It's up to him who he trusts. I would find a change. My agent and I tried for [that] last summer. However, they immediately caught me with a qualification contract. The rules still play their cards.
“They know what they are doing. They invested years of education in me. It's all about the trust from the coach that I don't get. I still hear I'm ready for the NHL, I have it, but when it goes like this, I need a change and a new start. It's high time."
It will be interesting to see what happens with Cehlarik if/when the NHL resumes this summer. He would likely have been one of the extra players called back that all NHL teams are expected to carry when their three-week training camp gets going ahead of the resumption of the season. He still might be one of those chosen players given that he was one of Providence’s best players in the AHL this season, and likely would have likely been a “Black Ace” for the Stanley Cup Playoffs had they gone off this spring.
"As far as the performance in Providence is concerned, I am satisfied. I had goals until the end of the basic part, unfortunately I couldn't move the numbers anymore,” said Cehlarik. “I tried to detach myself from not being in the NHL. I enjoyed hockey, I was more comfortable. There weren't many moves up in the Bruins, not only did I have only three matches. This year, Boston had a very busy staff. It wasn't perfect for me.”
If this humble hockey writer was running the Bruins, Cehlarik would be out the door at this point after publicly airing his frustrations.
Beyond this season, though, it feels like Cehlarik will be headed the way of discontented Russian winger Alexander Khokhlachev after speaking out against a head coach. Khokhlachev’s camp did the same with Claude Julien at the beginning of Don Sweeney’s tenure running the Bruins with very similar comments and hasn’t played a game for the Bruins organization since then. Cehlarik is still a restricted free agent with arbitration rights following this season and spoke extensively in the interview about playing in Europe next season rather than going back to North America for another season in Providence.
Perhaps the underachieving Cehlarik will end up firing his way out of town with a trade after venting his feelings over the last month in Slovakia.
But it feels much more likely that the Bruins will do exactly what they did with Khokhlachev and not really reward a player for being critical of the staff while he was still a member of the organization. At last check, Khokhlachev wasn’t exactly lighting it up with Moscow Spartak in the KHL after blasting his way out of Boston and will probably never again get an NHL opportunity following the need to clear the air publicly with the Black and Gold.
Either way, it should be the end of the line for Cehlarik with the Bruins after he popped off in his native country earlier this month.