One of the biggest questions heading into the new NHL season for Boston is who will replace David Krejci. The long time Bruin leaves some massive shoes to fill. The Bruins do have plenty of candidates to fill that void though. But can those candidates be the Bruins’ second line center?
A New Problem After Solving an Old One
One of the first major moves current Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney made was when he dealt winger Milan Lucic to the LA Kings in 2015. Lucic had been a big part of Boston’s identity for quite some time leading up to the trade, but at the time, change was necessary for the Bruins. This move left a gap on David Krejci’s wing, and that gap would remain really up until just this past season. When Boston brought in Taylor Hall, it finally seemed as if that gap was finally filled for Krejci after six years.
Unfortunately, a new problem arose in Boston. After finally getting a solid winger to play with, David Krejci opted to return to his native Czech Republic to finish his hockey career. Among Bruins fans, there are no hard feelings for this. Krejci had given everything to Boston, and now he wanted to go home. But I cannot tell you how frustrating it is that there is a new problem with a void at the Bruins’ second-line center. The person who I feel the worst for in this situation would be Taylor Hall. Hall was in a similar situation to Krejci but instead of playing with a revolving door of wingers, Hall did with centers. The Hall and Krejci combination seemed like a match made in heaven. But now, Hall is right back to where he was with his previous teams.
Who Are the In House Candidates?
The Bruins notably have not made any major moves to replace Krejci since his decision to leave. This is most likely because the front office feels as though they already have the new second-line center. The most likely to fill the slot would be Charlie Coyle. Entering his fourth year in Boston, it had seemed as though the Bruins were planning on Coyle being Krejci’s replacement. In 2019, Boston inked a six-year contract extension with Coyle. A contract of that length typically is not given to a career bottom-six forward. Coyle however did not have a stellar 2021 season. Which of course puts into question if he is locked in for the job.
Other centremen are looking for a shot at the second line this season. Maybe Boston wants to get younger by giving Jack Studnicka this opportunity. This would be a lot to put on a young player like Studnicka but with rumors of Patrice Bergeron contemplating retirement, it might be better to give Studnicka this experience sooner rather than later. Bruins could also opt for the experienced route. The Bruins did recently sign Nick Foligno. Now Foligno does not always play center and his best years are behind him, but he can bring his hockey know-how to the second line. All Foligno would need to do is consistently feed the puck to Taylor Hall and the second line will be successful.
Is a Big Move in Order?
With the NHL season still a little ways to go, the door is open for any team to make a move. David Krejci may have been on the wrong side of 30, but he was still an incredible playmaker. If Boston wants to replace him, they might need to get some outside help. And maybe just maybe that outside help could be one of Taylor Hall’s former teammates.
Yes, I am suggesting the Bruins could try to go after Jack Eichel. If you ask me, it makes sense. Eichel is a Boston native, played college hockey at BU, and wants out of Buffalo. For the time being, it looks like Eichel will be held hostage by the Sabres until some team offers them half of Jeff Bezos’s fortune. Eichel would not only replace Krejci, but he would be an incredible step up. But honestly, this situation is a pipe dream.
I would go the safe route and simply say that Charlie Coyle is the new second-line center. The idea of this though makes a lot of Bruins fans wince. To them, Coyle is several steps down from Krejci. Coyle’s 2021 was pretty bad, which does not help his case. However, he reportedly was playing under injury which he had surgery for this offseason. Playing under those type of conditions are not exactly a recipe for success for an NHL player.
I think that if you look at Coyle’s play when he’s 100 percent he 100 percent deserves this new role. I suggest going back and watching highlights of his 2019 playoffs. Coyle was honestly one of the reasons Boston made it to the Cup Final that year. And now he will be playing with Taylor Hall. To me, it looks like Coyle will have a breakout year as the Bruins’ second-line center. And whatever he cannot do will be taken care of by Hall.
Hi, I’m RJ Oakley and I’m the Bruins beat writer here at Belly Up Sports. Check back here and follow me on Twitter for news and discussion on the B’s. Be sure to follow Belly Up Hockey as well for all your NHL needs!