Proof David Krejci isn’t nor has ever been overpaid by the Bruins

Matt Kalman
July 16, 2019 - 7:00 am

Is David Krejci overpaid? Has he ever been?

Of course not.

Here’s what you should know so you’ll stop tweeting that ridiculous myth as though you’re some sort of senile septuagenarian with a bad combover.

The contract

Bruins center David Krejci was starting the last year of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $5.25 million when he signed a six-year contract with a $7.25 million AAV in September 2014. The contract  would start in the 2015-16 season. He was 28 and would be 29 when the contract started.

Krejci had 69 points in 80 games during the Bruins’ Presidents’ Trophy-winning season in 2013-14, but he would miss all but 47 games, and get just 31 points, in 2014-15. When the contract started the next season, he had 63 points in 72 games, and the revolving door of wings kicked into gear with Krejci playing 243 5-on-5 minutes with Loui Eriksson and Matt Beleskey, and 293 with Eriksson and a David Pastrnak (in his second NHL season). Krejci had hip surgery the following offseason.

The environment

Remember, Krejci would’ve been an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2015. Certainly his injury woes that year would’ve affected his value, but he signed the extension off of a 69-point year.

Paul Stastny had been a UFA in the summer of 2014 and signed with St. Louis for $7 million per season over four years. He and Krejci had each averaged 0.79 points per game from 2008-09 through 2013-14.

Logan Couture, who had averaged 0.72 points to Krejci’s 0.75 points from 2009-10 through 2012-13, had signed in June 2013 for $6 million a year over five years (although he was just 24 at the time).

The Maple Leafs had given Tyler Bozak, 27 at the time, $4.2 million over five years in July 13, and Mikhail Grabovski, 28, $5.5 million for five years in March 2012.

Joe Thornton was playing on a three-year contract with an AAV of $6.75 million he signed at 35 in January 2014. Ryan Getzlaf, on the cusp of turning 28, had signed for eight years and $8.25 million per season in March 2013.

This was your center market, keeping in mind that none of the best centers in the league were reaching UFA status before re-signing with their teams.

In the 2015-16 season, Krejci’s cap hit ranked ninth among NHL centers, and he was 11th in points for players at his position.

The production

In 299 games played since the start of the 2015-16 season, Krejci has 234 points (77 goals, 157 assists) – 24th among centers in that span. Last year he had 73 points in 81 games, and had dropped to 15th in cap hit among centers.

Points aren’t the only way to judge a center you say? Well at least one ex-player-turned-broadcaster and several scouts have touted Krejci’s two-way play as recently this year, classifying him as a No. 1 center on a team that doesn’t have Patrice Bergeron.

Krejci’s not durable enough you say. Well since the 2015-16 season, who’s played more games, Krejci or Bergeron? Krejci has played 299, Bergeron 288. Getzlaf has played 274. Couture has played 284. Get it yet?

Bergeron has outscored Krejci, 263-234. Bergeron has played with Brad Marchand for all those seasons and has a mature Pastrnak for most of the past two seasons. Krejci just recently got paired with Jake DeBrusk and has over the years been saddled with the likes of Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Drew Stafford and a rotation of rookies and out-of-position forwards (hello wing Ryan Spooner).

As far as intangibles, Krejci is an alternate captain and a leader that’s helped nurture players like Marchand and Pastrnak over the years.

Conclusion

Couture went on to sign for eight years at $8 million in 2018. He’s now 30 and coming off a 70-point season. The Sharks probably overpaid but they proved that the center market hasn’t changed, even with teams looking for younger, cheaper players to fill out the rest of their roster. The best players still get the big contracts.

You could make the case Krejci is underpaid. Imagine if he’d hit the market in 2015. Teams probably wouldn't have been scared off by the MCL injury that slowed him in 2014-15 considering his scoring resume. That year Beleskey was the jewel of the free agent market. Krejci would’ve cleaned up with Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews and Evgeni Malkin having set the market. Players like Krejci don’t come along often in free agency.

But let’s say you don’t want to play the what-if game with Krejci going to the highest bidder at the end of his second Boston contract. Well then you have to at least accept, based on the above evidence, that he’s at worst been, and continues to be, adequately paid for what he’s given the Bruins. All while being misused on a second line that’s been less stable that Boston’s fourth lines, and being relegated to the second power play.

It is these facts that not only prove Krejci isn't overpaid but also prove how difficult it would be to replace him should the Bruins decide removing his $7.25 million from their payroll is the way to clear cap space for restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. There are no viable immediate replacements in the Bruins' system or available in free agency. The Bruins would be creating yet another hole among their top six forwards or at least dealing with a major dropoff in production from the second-line center position depending on what they received in return in a trade.

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