Filling The Gaps

It’s undeniable that the signing of David Backes is probably the biggest splash the Boston Bruins are going to make this offseason. However, it can still be debated on how his services will be used once the season commences in October.

For recapping purposes, Backes was a dominant force down the middle of the ice for the St. Louis Blues for a decade. Culminating in a trip to the Western Conference Final for the first time in his career this past season. With that in mind, Backes isn’t a one trick pony.

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Known to play the right wing position as well, it gives head coach Claude Julien some flexibility when it comes to pinning guys to their corresponding lines.

For those unfamiliar with who is present in the header photo, its David Backes slamming into David Krejci at the Sochi Olympics, foreshadowing that we’ll get to later.

Recently, Chris Kelly signed a one year deal to return to the team that drafted him, the Ottawa Senators. Unfortunately for Boston, they lost yet another member of their historical run to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. While Kelly’s play had come with plenty of scrutiny in recent years, his leadership on and off the ice helped keep the younger players in line. In case you were unaware, they could have used some of that in the dying weeks of the 2015-16 campaign.

Aside from brute force and offensive creativity, Backes comes with the hopes that he can imitate the locker room presence Kelly orchestrated.

With Landon Ferraro and Kelly both switching organizations, it only makes the mystery of who will be playing where and with who even more intriguing.

Perhaps Julien’s hand has been forced and the Bruins will be one of the deepest teams in the league down the middle. Bergeron, Krejci, Backes and Spooner are all capable of playing worthwhile minutes against fierce competition.

As history has shown, the center position remains the least of Boston’s concerns.

Similarly to the latest installment of the Pro Bowl, the Bruins blue line stinks. Rumors spread like wild fire that both Kevin Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler drew considerable interest from Don Sweeney during the draft, but no deal was made. Reports out of Canada say that talks haven’t ceased but they also haven’t gained much ground either.

Yeah, whatever that means.

Believe it or not, David Krejci has been dangled as bait in an attempt to lure in a general manager for a player for player deal regarding a talented defensemen. The news has the entire fan base split down the middle.

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Krejci is absolutely a playoff player.

All he does is put up crazy numbers once the regular season concludes. But that’s insignificant for a team that has struggled to get there in consecutive seasons. That’s also not to say that Krejci isn’t a high 40 to low 50 point per season player, because he absolutely is. His dilemma stems from the fact that in the two seasons Boston has failed to qualify for the postseason, his participation has been significantly limited due to injuries.

In his absence, Julien was forced to play Ryan Spooner, Landon Ferraro and Noel Accari against 3rd and occasionally 2nd line talent. Now you understand why Boston has seen a dip in offensive production.

Universally, the knock on Krejci is that he is either an 82 game player or a 40 game player. Simply, he either plays in every game or is mauled by brutal injuries all season long that require him to sit nearly half of the regular season.

Backes is an ‘iron man’ of sorts who rarely misses a single game in an entire season. That’s the kind of consistency that Boston’s brass is looking for. When the signing of Backes was announced, immediately the speculation was that Krejci’s days were numbered. Honestly, you’re probably not wrong in thinking that. Regardless of how you feel about the potential departure of Krejci, you would be wrong to think that a trade is on the horizon.

By no means are massive trades late in July a oddity. In fact, they sometimes bleed well into August. But it’s fair to say that if it hasn’t happened yet, it most likely won’t happen at all, or will wait until the deadline.

My final takeaway is this.

Don’t you find it a bit odd that Boston would sign a 32 year old center who never misses a game to that kind of money over that period of time while the plan wasn’t to trade one of your centers for a puck moving defensemen? Between Bergeron, Spooner and Krejci who obviously represented the core of centers prior to Backes’ arrival, Krejci is the odd man out.

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Bergeron is your future captain and face of the franchise, Spooner is a young gun who shined in his role as the 3rd and 4th line center putting up impressive numbers. Boston is over and done with trading young talent after seeing so little of what they can and can’t do. Ruling out Bergeron and Spooner.

So we’ve come full circle here. If the rumors are true, and only God knows that truth, then Krejci has been tossed into shark infested waters recently.

Time as I’ve said over and over, will tell.

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