David Krejci is one of the top centers in the NHL. Since 2008-09, he has 351 points in 448 regular-season games, an average of 0.79 points per game. Krejci has been even better in the playoffs with 77 points in 93 games, an average of 0.85 points per game.
That's why the Boston Bruins have elected to sign the 28-year-old to a six-year, $43.5 million contract extension, according to a report in the Czech Republic, with the dollar figures relayed by TSN's Aaron Ward.
This is neither a great deal nor a bad deal; it's simply the cost of doing business in what is becoming a rare case these days: an elite player getting to the verge of unrestricted free agency without a deal in place.
Krejci will have a cap hit of $7.25 million beginning in 2015-16, a price tag that will remain on the books through 2021, when he'll be 35 years old. The Bruins have cost certainty with their top two centers that will last into the next decade, as Patrice Bergeron has a $6.5 million cap hit through 2022, when he will be 36 years old.
|Leading scorers since 2008-09|
|Player||Games||Goals||Assists||Points||Points per game|
|38. Daniel Alfredsson||393||113||197||310||0.79|
|39. Jamie Benn||334||116||156||272||0.79|
|40. Loui Eriksson||434||140||204||344||0.79|
|41. David Krejci||442||104||247||351||0.79|
|42. Paul Stastny||390||108||201||309||0.79|
It's the same old story with Krejci's long-term UFA deal: It's a bargain now, but as his production tails off in his 30s, he most certainly will not be a $7.25 million center, even in relation to what will surely be a much higher salary cap. But, again, this the cost of doing business with a UFA of Krejci's stature, and really, why is everyone so hung up on the future? For all we know, the world will be underwater or destroyed by alien race hellbent on harvesting our organs in 2019. Live in the now, worrywarts.
The Bruins have a deal in the present and, much like a degenerate gambler with debts in multiple casinos, they'll worry about that later.
Paul Stastny was this summer's marquee free-agent center and possesses a very similar resume to Krejci. Stastny, 28, has also averaged 0.79 points per game since 2008-09 but has one-tenth the playoff experience and numbers of Krejci, yet secured a four-year, $28 million deal from the St. Louis Blues.
What could Krejci have commanded in the open market next summer? At least another million per season and perhaps a seventh year would have been virtually guaranteed for Krejci, yet he chose the only organization he has ever known probably because he's comfortable in Boston and has enjoyed a Stanley Cup championship and then a second trip to a Final in 2013.
It's the rare contract that's both a bargain and an overpayment.
By getting this deal done a year in advance, it also gives general manager Peter Chiarelli a framework for signing RFAs Torey Krug and Reilly Smith to deals that stretch beyond this year, something that may be necessary considering how snug things are looking for 2015-16. If Krug and Smith sign one-year deals, their next contracts will surely come at a greater cost, something the Bruins can't afford.
According to CapGeek, the Bruins have $54.2 million committed to 11 players for next season. If next year's salary cap is around $75 million, that's not much room to sign Krug, Smith, Carl Soderberg, Johnny Boychuk, Adam McQuaid, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and several other pending free agents.
A few of those players will likely have to leave after next season, but by getting Krejci's contract done now for a shade below market value, maybe this will allow Chiarelli to keep one more player on the boat.
This is also a contract the 31-year-old Jason Spezza and the Dallas Stars should be noticing, as the pending UFA center has likely had the market set for him.
Krejci's deal should also serve as a beacon of light for players in their mid-20s barreling toward free agency—if you can time your contract so that you'll be a UFA at the age of 28 or 29, your payday will be far greater than if you get UFA years bought out by a lengthy deal when you're 23 or 24.
The Bruins have been quieter than a mime in the vacuum of space this summer, but it seems they've announced they're ready to get their house in order before the start of training camp.
Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.
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