Krejci Was Killer in First Pro Season
Prior to their finishing the season on Monday, Providence head coach Scott Gordon was asked about the P-Bruins leading scorer, 21 year-old center David Krejci, of the Czech Republic.
"Coming into the year we didn't know that we would have to count on him as much as we do," said Gordon. "From an offensive standpoint, we knew he had the ability.
"But to be a rookie and to put of the points that he did without consistent wingers?"
A clearly impressed Gordon summed up Krejci's year by drawing a parallel with one of his former pupils.
"If I could give you a comparison, he has…similar traits to Patrice Bergeron."
Around these parts, that is high praise, as Bergeron, himself just 21 years young, is counted amongst the brightest of the B's and the NHL's young stars.
But soon, you might be able to add Krejci to that list.
In 69 games for the P-Bruins he scored 31 goals and added 43 assists for 74 points.
Just by comparison, during his one full year at Providence during the NHL lockout, Bergeron was 21-40-61 in 68 games and added 5-7-12 totals during 16 playoff contests in the AHL.
In his Hockey Notes from May 6th, The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa got a similar reaction from Krejci's and Bergeron's AHL head coach.
In 2004-05, when AHL coaches were getting their locked-out treats of rising NHL talent, Scott Gordon rolled Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes over the boards in Providence.
This season, David Krejci has put himself into a class comparable to the B&B boys.
"Watching the plays they made, David is every bit in their league as far as that's concerned," said Gordon.
The center…exploded in his first year as a pro, scoring a team-high 74 points in 69 games, a total that could have been higher had Krejci not lost linemate Kris Versteeg when the winger was traded to Chicago for Brandon Bochenski Feb. 3…"I can't say enough about what he's been able to do as a rookie," said Gordon. "From the middle of the season on -- from the middle of January -- his game went up to an NHL level vs. being a prospect. I feel he's one of the best guys in the American Hockey League, from the 12 teams that we've seen."
Krejci should make a run at a big-league job in 2007-08, but he's behind Bergeron, Marc Savard, and Phil Kessel at center, and will need minutes to take advantage of his skills.
"David's a disciplined young man and he really wants to play in the NHL as soon as possible," said Bruins assistant GM Jeff Gorton. "Once he gets there, it will be a long-term thing.
"Being a first-year pro and a No. 1 center in the AHL is not that easy. He's asked to do a lot of things against men, not teenagers anymore. He deserves a chance to get a long, hard look, which he'll get."
Perhaps some of those looks came early, as most of the Boston Bruins front office was on hand to see the young center play so well in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Providence Journal's Joe McDonald, caught up with General Manager Peter Chiarelli:
Boston Bruins training camp begins on Sept. 13, and with what Chiarelli has seen during the AHL’s postseason, the GM can’t wait for next season.
“There are some good, young players here,” said Chiarelli. “I don’t have to mention any names because there are some guys who played very well. What I liked most was their work ethic, and they all have their own types of skills that will benefit the Boston Bruins. These guys worked hard, and maybe under different circumstances they could have won.”
For his part, when BostonBruins.com spoke with Krejci during the AHL's second round, he was clearly concentrating on the playoffs, deflected any praise to his teammates and called one of his three goals in the set with the Manchester Monarchs "a garbage goal" because it happened in a pile up in front of the net.
However, Krejci was genuinely pleased with being compared to Bergeron and noted that when he was in Boston for a six game stint, he attempted to follow Patrice's lead. And perhaps by design, and perhaps just by nature, the polite, friendly, but low key forward, stayed very low key throughout the post season -- just like Boston's Black & Gold number 37.
While speaking to the media after the P-Bruins series win over the Hartford Wolf Pack, a set of games where he lead the team with nine total points, Krecji, much like Bergeron, was talking team first.
"I feel pretty good," he said. "But I would like to help the team get some more goals."
At the time, he had nine assists and had helped lead the P-B's to a stunning comeback in the opening round series against the New York farm club.
Yet, Krejci felt he could do more.
"I had (31) goals during the regular season, so I would like to score some goals in the playoffs, too," said Krejci.
Pressed for more reaction to his first year in New England, however, Krejci did admit that his first year with the Bruins organization has been outstanding.
"This is my first year in the pros, my first year in a (professional) playoff," said David. "It's been really fun."
And next season, should the Boston Bruins go on a playoff run, chances are that Krejci will making it fun for all of us, too.