When the Boston Bruins held their end-of-season media interviews today, a few things stood out. First, several players including Tuukka Rask were dealing with serious injuries, but perhaps, more importantly, was the idea that many pending free agents hope to return to Boston. Taylor Hall was asked about his future and was quite clear he’d like to stay a part of the Bruins organization:
I see a fit. Hopefully they feel the same…hopefully we can make that happen.
I don’t even know what my value is at this point, I feel like I had two different seasons. I’m not looking to absolutely maximize my value at this point in my career. I’ve been fortunate enough to make some good money in this league and at this point it’s about more of a fit for me than money or a long-term thing. We want to find a home for the next few years here.
Hall was an excellent pickup for the Bruins at the deadline, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres after his dreadful first half. In 16 games down the stretch in Boston he had eight goals and 14 points, while adding another five points in 11 playoff matches. Coming off a one-year, $8MM contract from last summer, Hall has been clear in all of his interviews that he sees Boston as a good fit for the next part of his career. Whether the two sides can come together on a deal is still to be seen, but he is obviously willing to hear them out.
During his interview, Hall noted that there are some other players on the Bruins that have been around the team longer and will have to be sorted out first. One of those is his linemate David Krejci, who is coming off a six-year, $43.5MM deal with the team and is also a pending free agent. The difference perhaps is that Krejci is now 35, meaning a long-term deal is certainly out of the question. Similar to Hall though, the veteran forward isn’t looking to maximize his salary, explaining that his next deal “is not going to be based on money.” Krejci said he can’t see himself playing for another team, but also admitted he hasn’t made a firm decision on his future at this point.
Even though he is now in his mid-thirties, Krejci’s offensive production hasn’t really slowed down. He registered 44 points in 51 games this season and added another nine in 11 playoff games. The 35-year-old’s hands are still as silky as ever, even though his skating may not be quite as powerful as it once was. There’s a milestone to be had in Boston should he return, as Krejci is just 38 games away from 1,000 in his career, to this point entirely spent in a Bruins uniform.
As much as Hall, Krejci and Rask have all indicated they would be open to a return, Bruins GM Don Sweeney has made difficult decisions before when it comes to an aging free agent. Just last season he parted ways with franchise icon and longtime captain Zdeno Chara when it was clear the big defenseman’s role would be drastically diminished. With Charlie McAvoy and Patrice Bergeron needing new contracts after next season and David Pastrnak scheduled for unrestricted free agency a year after that, Sweeney and the Bruins front office will have to delicately balance the transition from the current core to the new one. It might come with some difficult decisions.