The fans of the Boston Bruins are a passionate lot. They wear their favorite player unapologetically, and are often upfront with their opinions. Some players (like Patrice Bergeron and Bobby Orr) will be forever remembered for how they played the game. Other players will be loved for the roles they played, and some players Bruins fans will continually gripe about.
Chris Kelly is one of those players that (through no real fault of his own) seems to have annoyed many of the faithful. He suffered serious injuries that kept him off the ice for a significant part of the last two seasons. He’s in the same boat as defenseman Adam McQuaid in that regard. His injury reduced season had Kelly put up only eighteen points (nine goals) for the Black and Gold last season. His plus/minus was barely above even (+2), and he had thirty two minutes in penalties.
A lot of people thought the move was coming when the Bruins made Carl Soderberg the new third line center. Kelly is still a very flexible player, but the Bruins might want to go with someone a lot younger than Kelly at this point. Those younger players are waiting in the wings, and they have a decent chance of taking Kelly’s job away from him. Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, Justin Florek, and Matt Fraser will be at training camp. Any one of them could end up with Kelly’s job by opening night.
Kelly is a solid leader for Boston. No one can dispute that. The problem is there are half a dozen men in that locker room who could end up wearing that “A” next season. The Bruins could also just decide to make David Krejci the sole possessor of the second alternate captain’s slot as well. Kelly’s veteran leadership could be useful to several teams that are lacking a locker room leader, and the Bruins could capitalize on that factor in any potential trade.
Finally, hockey is a business. The Bruins are in a rough salary cap spot. Kelly’s contract is three million a year. That three million a year could be used to shore up contracts for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. The organization needs cap space, and trading away a solid player that the Bruins could see a measure of return for would definitely be in their best interests.
Three million a year makes him a financial contemporary of defenseman Johnny Boychuk. If Bruins fans were asked which one of the two they should keep, I dare say the fans would vote overwhelmingly for Boychuk.