The Bruins center is coming off a career year and could cash in on his success over the past couple of seasons after adding a Stanley Cup ring and his first 20-goal campaign to his resume the last two years.
But Kelly still hopes that landing a new deal won't require him to leave Boston.
"Hopefully my agent [Pat Morris] and [Bruins general manager] Peter [Chiarelli] will talk and we can get something done," Kelly said at the club's breakup day at the Garden on Friday. "I made it clear that I like it here, and I’m not just telling you guys that. I truly do like it here. Some guys just say that, but everything about Boston has been a pleasant surprise. From the team, the coaching staff, the management and obviously the city. Not knowing anything about Boston coming here midseason last year other than visiting the city when I played, but my wife and I love it here. It's a great city."
Kelly and the Bruins discussed an extension during the season, but put a halts to the talks late in the year to avoid causing a distraction heading into the playoffs.
"They were talking a bit, then they stopped obviously," Kelly said. "I thought that was the best thing for myself and the team that we just focus on playing. As much as you try not to think about it as a player, when negotiations are going on it's always in the back of your head."
The Bruins did sign pending free agents Rich Peverley, David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton to extensions during the season, but could not come to terms with Kelly. Still, when asked if he was optimistic of reaching a new deal with the Bruins, Kelly replied that he’s always optimistic.
"I seem to be the kind of guy that sees the glass as half full as opposed to half empty,” Kelly said. "Don't I seem that way? Obviously I hope we get something done."
Still, Kelly will be in high demand if he tests the market. In addition to his offensive contributions, which included 20-19-39 totals in the regular season and an overtime winner in Game 1 and two assists in the opening round loss to Washington, Kelly is one of the top defensive forwards in the game and extremely durable. He was tied for third in the league with a plus-33 rating and was the only Bruin to play in all 82 games this season.
Boston is Kelly's top option, but he admitted he will have to consider his alternatives if the right deal isn’t offered.
"I'll always weigh every option, every possibility," Kelly said. "That's my job as a player and as a guy with a young family. That's my responsibility. But I think if we can get something done here I would like to stay here. This is a great team, a great organization, and I know being on a good, winning hockey team is an important thing to me, and always has been."
Kelly has been a big part of making Boston a winning team the last two years, and keeping him around should be a priority for Chiarelli as he begins shaping his roster for the 2012-13 campaign and beyond.
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