The total package. That’s what center David Krejci was considered from the time the Boston Bruins drafted him all the way through the start of this season’s training camp. He had been a force at every other level, so there was nothing left to prove except that he could make the same plays, show the same instincts and shutdown opponents the same way in the NHL.
Consider Krejci’s reputation proven at the game’s highest level. Maybe no other player in the entire league had a bigger breakout season, and to think he did it for most of the year on a balky right hip. The chemistry Krejci forged with winger Michael Ryder, and at times Blake Wheeler, made the Bruins into a team with a No. 1 and a No. 1A line — one that finished atop the league in goals scored.
Stats: 82 GP, 22-51-73, 26 PIM, plus-37 regular season; 11 GP 2-6-8, 2 PIM, plus-6 playoffs.
Contract status: RFA July 1.
Season highlight: In a season of offensive plays that sometimes took your breath away, Krejci really announced that he was in the NHL to stay Dec. 18 in that wild game against Toronto. It was the only night Tim Thomas started and didn’t finish in the Boston net, but Krejci & Co. made sure that the netminder’s off night wouldn’t cost the Bruins. Krejci, who was in the midst of a 10-game points streak, capped his first NHL hat trick with a power-play tap-in in the 8-5 victory. But it was his second goal (see video below) that really exemplified his offensive gifts, as he drew Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph out of the crease and carried the puck around the netminder before stuffing the puck inside the left post. The patience and determination Krejci showed there was what he displayed pretty much all season.
Season low light: Krejci closed the regular season with just two goals in the Bruins’ last 24 games, including one eight-game stretch that featured just one assist. Little did we know how much pain he was in at the time, and he bounced back with a standout performance in the Montreal series.
In summation … the Bruins couldn’t have really asked more from Krejci, who found a decent level of consistency for the first time in the NHL — the only thing that held him back the season before.
Grade: A-minus. That season-closing slump was a bit troubling, as he also seemed to lose his physical game in addition to his scoring touch. A healthy hip should help him avoid a similar finish in the future.
The crystal ball says … Krejci’s 2009-10 season will be postponed by his recovery from hip surgery. All signs point to his making that return in black and gold, and he should be on the precipice of No. 1 center status by the time the next campaign is complete.
Here’s a look at that Krejci hat trick: