Where does David Krejci belong among the NHL’s elite pivots?
David Krejci has been a full-time Boston Bruin since the 2008-09 season — almost exclusively as a top six forward. He’s in the final year of a deal that pays him $5.25 million a season, and will assuredly expect to be paid as a top centre before next July. Where does he fit in with the other top NHL middle-men?
Let’s look at the top centres, based on their 5 on 5 production (per every 60 minutes played) over the past four seasons (minimum 2500 minutes):
The average salary of the above names (not including Krejci) is around $7.25 million. That number factors in the hefty new $10-plus million contract signed by Toews. It’s worth noting that David Krejci is making the least amount of any centreman on that list.
But those are just regular season numbers. What about the post-season? You know, when the games REALLY mean something?
David Krejci has 77 points in 93 playoff games. Since becoming a full-time NHLer, Krejci trails only Crosby, Malkin and Toews in that category. In fact, David Krejci has a higher playoff plus-minus than any of those players. In 2012-13 when the Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup finals, Krejci was far and away the most productive player in the post-season with 3.32 points per 60 minutes played. By contrast, Chicago stars (who beat Boston in the finals) finished with 2.69 (Kane) and 1.40 (Toews) P/60 respectively.
David Krejci not only produces offensively, he’s also an elite NHL pivot who can play in all situations and take key face-offs, if necessary. Not to mention a Stanley Cup winner in 2010-11. Krejci has enough talent to threaten for NHL scoring titles — particularly on a team that will give him more ice team and a longer leash defensively.
Will GM Peter Chiarelli pay him as an elite centreman? If so, that brings on another question: are the Bruins prepared to pay David Krejci considerably more than Patrice Bergeron ($6.5 million) — the teams best all-around forward? The Bruins brass will tell you that they value both players equally, but based on the sheer numbers, it’s clear that David Krejci fits somewhere in that $7-$7.5 million range. For that matter, so does Bergeron. But the latter decided it was more important to finish his career in Boston and signed through 2022. David Krejci may be willing to sign a lifer deal, as well, for similar money. But he could also choose to cash-in in the short-term — seeing as how the next deal that the 28 year old signs will take him straight through the prime of his career.
Within the next 11 months or so, David Krejci could be the highest paid forward in Boston Bruins history. If not, there’s a chance he could dawn a new NHL sweater for the first time in his career.
If the Bruins don’t pay him, someone will.