The Boston Bruins and Patrice Bergeron have hammered out a deal that should serve both parties' best interests — while also paving the way for a long-rumoured return.
After a long, but never contentious, negotiation process, the Bruins have re-signed Bergeron, their long-time captain, to a one-year contract extension worth up to $5 million. Bergeron will officially cost the Bruins $2.5 million in guaranteed salary, with another $2.5 million built into the deal if he manages to appear in just 10 games.
In a similarly structured deal, the Bruins have lured David Krejci back to Boston, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract worth a maximum of $3 million.
Krejci will earn a base of $1 million, with incentives making up the remaining $2 million.
Boston structured these deals in an effort to maximize the salary cap exemption — or one of the lesser-travelled tools included in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. By rule, teams are able to exceed the salary cap by a maximum of 7.5 percent in bonus payouts, with the penalty to carry over to the following season. This means the Bruins are planning to sacrifice some fairly significant spending potential for the 2023-24 season in order to maintain flexibility this year.
It's a particularly appealing option for both the Bruins and Bergeron, who are moving almost in lockstep toward the end of a competitive window. It's possible Bergeron calls it a career as early as next summer, which could conceivably send the Bruins into a full-fledged rebuild. Krejci's plans seem less certain after exiting the organization at the end of the pandemic-shortened 2021 season. He returned to his native Czechia to play for HC Olomouc and compete at the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Bergeron's contract is a steal for the Bruins, who could have spent twice as much as the maximum $5 million without batting an eye. The five-time and reigning Selke Trophy winner is coming off another brilliant two-way season. He scored 25 goals and amassed 65 points in 73 games to pair with the stalwart's arguable best-ever defensive numbers. Bergeron was second to only Elias Lindholm in on-ice goal differential among centres, with the Bruins outscoring the opposition 49-25 in 2021-22 with their No. 1 pivot on the ice at five-on-five.
Patrice Bergeron, signed 1x$2.5M by BOS, is the best defensive forward in NHL history and just had quite possibly the best season of his 18-year career. He broke pretty much every 5v5 on-ice stat record in 2021-22 en route to a well-deserved Selke Trophy. #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/L7KDoE4ooc
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) August 8, 2022
Krejci's value is less definite, but production has never been a major issue from Boston's middle six. He had eight goals and 44 points in 51 games in 2021 and had one fewer point in 61 games the season prior.
Bergeron and Krejci, both 36, will have to help carry the load early on this season. Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy are expected to miss significant time after undergoing offseason surgeries.
A surefire future Hall of Famer, Bergeron will likely hit the 1,000-point milestone this season. He's sitting on 982 for his career after notching his 400th career goal and surpassing 1,200 games in 2021-22. He's also one of 30 members of the Triple Gold Club, having been part of teams that won the World Junior Championship, Olympics and the Stanley Cup, and has reached the NHL's championship series on three occasions.
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