Re-signed Peter Cehlarik will get another chance to win job with Bruins

Matt Kalman
July 08, 2019 - 11:54 am

On the day Marcus Johansson was making his acquaintances with the Buffalo media days after signing a two-year contract with the Sabres, the Bruins re-upped with one of his supposed potential replacements Monday.

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Peter Cehlarik, a 23-year-old restricted free agent, signed a one-year, two-way contract for $700,000 in the 2019-20 season. After the first day of free agency July 1, Cehlarik made Bruins general manager Don Sweeney’s list of players that could fill the role vacated by Johansson.

“I think Danton Heinen, depends which side we play him on. You know if you think whether Karson [Kuhlman> or [Zach> Senyshyn or whoever, Brett Ritchie, obviously guys that are right shot, if we play lefty-righty and move Danton over, I think falls into that same ilk of player,” Sweeney said. “Creative-wise, Marcus wasn’t a shoot-first guy either, and Danton’s not. We’d like him to shoot a little more volume if we can. We’ll see where Anders Bjork comes back on line. We’ll see what Peter Cehlarik does.”

Sixth on Sweeney’s lips. That’s all you need to know about Cehlarik’s previous NHL auditions. The 2013 third-round pick (No. 90) had a couple assists in 11 NHL games after Bruce Cassidy took over as coach in 2017, but then had one goal and one assist in just six NHL games the next season.

Last season was his best chance to win a NHL job, with David Krejci’s line constantly in flux. He had four goals and two assists in 20 games, but Cassidy could never trust Cehlarik’s decision-making and puck management. His last NHL game of the season came March 12 in Columbus, where he was benched for the third period of a 7-4 loss and played just 8:15.

Back in Providence, Ceharlik had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last 14 games after that night in Columbus. He finished his Providence regular season with 12-26-38 totals in 53 games, and had one goal in four playoff games.

By virtue of his experience, Cehlarik is now waiver eligible, meaning the Bruins won’t be able to demote him to the AHL without placing him on waivers. Fears that he will be claimed are unfounded because if he plays well enough, he’ll stay in Boston; if he continues to be inconsistent, disengaged and sloppy with the puck, no one will bother with him even on a waiver claim.

While the world waits to see if Sweeney can get new deals done with key RFAs Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Heinen, the GM has now extended Connor Clifton’s deal and re-signed Cehlarik in addition to a handful of minor unrestricted free agents signings. The signings haven’t been glamorous, but they’re necessary for filling out rosters in the NHL and AHL and create competition at training camp.

If the fierce competition in training camp for Johansson’s spot doesn’t bring out the best in Cehlarik,  that will once and for all tell the Bruins and observers what he’s made off and where he belongs on the Bruins’ depth chart.

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