Hours after the Boston Bruins signed Team USA Olympic captain and long-time pro Brian Gionta to a contract, the Anaheim Ducks have made a similar move. Veteran center and Team Canada captain Chris Kelly is on his way back to the NHL, as TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that he has inked a one-year deal with the Ducks. However, Kelly is commanding $1.25MM plus bonuses, adds Lebrun, compared to just $700K for Gionta.
The difference in salary between the two veterans could be explained by their recent production, as Kelly recorded three points en route to a bronze medal with Canada. In contrast, Gionta failed to record a point as the Americans were bounced in the quarterfinals. However, going back to 2016-17, Gionta performed far better, registering 35 points in 82 games for the Buffalo Sabres. Kelly too played a full 82-game season last year, suiting up in every game for the Ottawa Senators, but saw only limited ice time and added just 12 points. Yet, it is Kelly who will make nearly $300K in pro-rated salary before bonuses, while Gionta will make just over half of that with Boston.
It could also just be that Kelly is being valued on his expected role with the team. While Gionta is likely to be a 13th or 14th forward for the Bruins, who have for all intents and purposes already clinched a playoff spot with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, Kelly will likely push for a starting spot on the team’s fourth line as they fight for a playoff spot in the tight Pacific Division and Western Conference wild cared race. While scoring and power play production have been the bigger issues for Anaheim, Kelly’s two-way ability and intelligence will only further solidify a strong defensive team. It’s a savvy for GM Bob Murray and company, especially this year when the price of trading for assets has been so high.