WILMINGTON, Mass. — While Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli declared on a morning radio show today that he expects newly acquired forward Chris Kelly to play center between Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, head coach Claude Julien wasn’t making any commitments after the team’s practice at Ristuccia Arena.
In detailing Kelly’s versatility, and his ability to aid the penalty kill and win faceoffs, Julien noted,“I liked his grit and compete level, so he’s certainly a great addition for our hockey club.”
The Bruins obviously didn’t acquire Kelly from Ottawa in a trade last night to keep him from beating them. In 38 career games vs. Boston, Kelly has scored just two goals. Of course, Kelly isn’t coming to the Bruins to be a goal-scorer — although he has just two fewer goals this season than would-be sniper Nathan Horton — he’s coming to add depth and provide another veteran presence among the Bruins’ top 12 forwards.
“He’s a really good two-way player. I think that’s what really stands out is his ability to be responsible defensively, but he always seems to chip in offensively as well,” said Wheeler, who stands to be one of the benefactor’s of this addition after struggling on lines centered by Zach Hamill and Tyler Seguin in recent games. “So I think he’s someone that could really be valuable for us down the stretch, a guy that can really solidify some things up front.”
Defenseman Zdeno Chara briefly played with Kelly in Ottawa. The Boston captain lauded Kelly’s smarts and work ethic.
“Well, it’s a great addition. He’s a hard-working player, he’s a smart player,” said Chara. “He always plays his role well and, for sure, it’s going to give us more depth in the middle with the experience he has.”