Monday, June 11, 2012
As Expected, Chris Kelly & Gregory Campbell Will Return To The Bruins Next Season
Over the last two very successful seasons, Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli hasn't been shy of showering his hard-working team with contract extensions. For the most part, that's been fine with the fans since most of the chosen players have perfectly fit the Black and Gold mold.
Tonight, TSN's Bob McKenzie (for my money the best NHL reporter in North America) reported that Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell won't be going anywhere for the near future. Both guys were due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Kelly was signed to a four-year deal worth $12 million while Campbell inked a three-deal deal worth $4.8 million.
It's not just lip service when I say that I never thought for one second about life for the B's without their third-line or fourth-line center respectively. They each represent everything Boston accentuates: they play a two-way game, excellent on the penalty kill, they are tough, they are durable and reliable and they lead by example.
At 31-years-old and an assistant captain, Kelly is in the prime of his career and he performed like that last season. He turned in his best ever numbers in the NHL: 20 goals and 19 assists in 82 games (only Bruin to play in every game). Showing you how valuable he was, his plus/minus in 2011-12 was an absurd +33. He was good in the playoffs too with a goal, two assists and +1 in seven games against the Washington Capitals. You'll remember that he had the overtime winner in Game 1 at TD Garden which sadly enough ended up being one of the only highlights of a postseason that was far too short for the Bruins.
Campbell is a little younger (28) than Kelly but he's no less effective in his specific role: as one of Boston's main fighters (he had 10 fights last season, 2nd behind Shawn Thornton's 20) and key elements on their fourth line which is one of the best in the NHL. Showing you how much Bruins head coach Claude Julien relies on his fribble crew, Campbell averaged 12:48 of ice time per game in 2011-12, which has to be one of the highest for a fourth line player. In 78 games last season, Campbell scored eight goals and had eight assists. He was -3 but he had 80 penalty minutes. Campbell added two assists in the playoffs as well.
Fans of other teams or people that don't follow the Bruins closely might quibble with the length or dollar amount of these deals but I have absolutely no problem with them at all. It is a cliche thing to say but Kelly and Campbell's value cannot be pinned down to an exact number since their games are about so much more than goals or assists. In my mind, these were no-brainers. Good for the Bruins, Chiarelli and B's fans. We love these guys and they deserve job security in the hub.