They believe that the crafty two-way center who led the entire NHL in playoff scoring is the real David Krejci. That's the David Krejci they have now committed $15.75 million to for the next three seasons.
They are betting that the David Krejci who has struggled throughout much of the first two months of this season won't be the one cashing the very large checks through the end of the 2014-15 campaign.
"You have to look at the whole package with David," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday at a news conference at the Garden announcing the extension. "Everyone has their little dips here and there. That was really of no concern for me. … You have to look at the bigger picture, so that had no bearing on it."
Krejci looked ready to make the leap to true stardom this year as he entered the season healthy for the first time in three years and was coming off a monster playoff run that included a league-high 12 goals and 23 points in 25 games.
But Krejci has just 4-9-13 totals in his first 20 games this season. He's been held without a point in 13 of those games, with 11 of his 13 points coming in two short bursts spanning a total of just five games.
Krejci did miss three games with what the team termed a "core injury," but a bigger factor in his struggles may have been his contract status. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer, and admitted the uncertainty about his future had been weighing on him.
"Obviously it was on my mind a little bit, especially when things weren't going my way in the beginning of the season," Krejci said. "It got me thinking, but then we got a deal done and I'm happy to be here for more years and now I can just focus on hockey."
For proof of that, look no further than Wednesday night's performance in Toronto. Chiarelli revealed that Krejci had actually signed the new deal Wednesday afternoon in his hotel room, and proceeded to have a breakout night with a goal and two assists in Boston's 6-3 win.
"I'd like to think we had a little to do with his great night [Wednesday] night," Chiarelli joked.
Chiarelli is banking on many more such nights coming now that Krejci has been re-signed. Krejci will be the highest-paid forward on the team next year when this extension kicks in, and his $5.25-million cap hit will be second only to captain Zdeno Chara's $6.92-million hit on the entire roster.
But the risk of losing Krejci to free agency wasn't one that Chiarelli could take, and signing him later when other teams could get in on the bidding with offer sheets could have cost the Bruins even more.
"David is a special player, and he also is a special person," Chiarelli said. "In today's hockey world and hockey economy he might have been able to go somewhere else for more money and he might have been able to ask for more money, but he didn't. I think we've seen this with a bunch of our players that we've been signing lately. It speaks to his wanting to be part of a winning team and to help a team win."
Krejci has helped the Bruins win a lot in recent years. While his numbers haven't always reflected his status as true No. 1 center, he provides a lot of value to the club beyond the numbers.
"David's biggest asset is his head," Chiarelli said. "He sees the ice so well. He makes plays. He uses the players around him. He's very competitive, and he has a very well-rounded game. I think his game is underrated by its two-way component. He's got a lot of real good offensive skills and instincts, but the two-way component, and I don't want to harp on that but it's important when you want to win championships. I think he takes pride in that."
Winning championships is why Krejci was so eager to stay in Boston.
"It's pretty simple I think," Krejci said when asked why he signed a deal now rather than testing free agency. "We won the Cup last year. I feel this team could do it again and I want to be part of it."
The Bruins have already seen what their championship quests look like with and without him. Two years ago, Krejci's strong play helped the Bruins build a 3-0 lead on Philadelphia in the second round. After he went down with a wrist injury, the Bruins did not win another game in a historic collapse. Last spring, Krejci stayed healthy and helped the Bruins survive three Game 7s to win the franchise's first Cup in 39 years.
"We saw him shine in the playoffs last year," Chiarelli said. "We saw what the loss of him meant to us the year before in the playoffs. He's done everything we've asked and more.
"He plays big at big times," Chiarelli added. "He's got a real clutch element to his game."
Krejci also feels that his best days are still ahead of him, and is determined to improve his game and his consistency.
"I think I'm still young and my game can grow in every situation," Krejci said. "I'm just 25 and maybe my best years are still in front of me. I won't stop working. I'll keep working on my game and try to get better every day."
The Bruins are banking on that.