The Bruins are getting the band back together.
Actually, they never let it break up in the first place.
With Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell reportedly re-signed to new deals on Monday, the Bruins will once again have the nucleus of their 2011 Cup run back next season after a disappointing, early end to their title defense this spring.
Kelly was reportedly signed to a four-year deal worth $12 million, a $3 million cap hit that represents a well-deserved bump up from the $2.125 he was making in the course of his previous four-year, $8.5 million deal signed in Ottawa, but not a raise that should have any onerous effect on the Bruins' cap situation.
Campbell also gets a boost in pay with a reported three year, $4.8 million deal to remain in Boston. That's a $1.6 million cap hit, up from his previous $1.1 million on the two-year deal he signed after his arrival in Boston in a deal with Florida in the summer of 2010.
That is a little steep for a fourth-line center, but Campbell adds a lot more to the Bruins lineup than your average fourth-line center. His 8-8-16 totals this past year were a slight step back from his first season in Boston when he matched a career-high with 13 goals and finished with 29 points, but it still greatly exceeded the production of most fourth-liners in the NHL.
Campbell also supplements that offense with solid defensive play, a regular duty on the Bruins' penalty kill and a willingness to stand up for his teammates whenever needed. He isn't the most feared fighter by any means, but he always shows up, which means as much if not more to his teammates. Campbell was one of only eight players in the NHL to hit double figures in both goals and fighting majors when he had a career-high 11 fights in his first season in Boston, and he nearly matched that this past year with another 10 fights.
Kelly's contributions have been even greater since coming over from Ottawa in a deadline deal in 2011. He played a key role in Boston's Cup run and was an even more integral part of last year's squad's in his first full season in Boston.
Despite having come to the team just months before, Kelly had already earned enough respect among his teammates to be named an alternate captain to start the 2011-12 season. He followed that up with a breakthrough year offensively, reaching the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career. Those goals were timely too, with six of them being game-winners, plus another strike to win the postseason opener against Washington in overtime. In all, the Bruins were a perfect 19-0-0 last year when Kelly scored.
He did that all without sacrificing his two-way play. He finished tied with teammate Zdeno Chara for third in the NHL in plus-minus at plus-33, was second among Bruins forwards with 56 blocked shots and even added 79 hits and a career-high three fights. Those battles showed how much a part of the Bruins mentality had taken hold of Kelly, who had just two career fights prior to the season, none since his first full season in Ottawa in 2005-06.
There was never any question about the value both players brought to the Bruins. The only issue was if that value would exceed the Bruins' budget. Despite the raises for both, neither deal should impact Boston's ability to do anything else they may have planned for this offseason.
That said, the Bruins don't have a lot of roster space left for new faces, regardless of the cap implications. Boston now has 12 forwards returning from last year, with only restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot and unrestricted free agent Brian Rolston unsigned.
General manager Peter Chiarelli has indicated the Bruins intend to allow Rolston and fellow trade deadline pickups Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau to test the open market on July 1. Pouliot may also now be allowed to seek opportunities elsewhere despite a strong finish to his first season in Boston.
Pouliot and Rolston flanked Kelly on Boston's third line late in the season, with that line being the Bruins' most consistent and productive unit down the stretch. But if everyone is healthy, Kelly can be reunited with Rich Peverley, with Jordan Caron possibly filling the other wing on a revamped third line. That should give the Bruins solid scoring depth again after finishing tied for second in the NHL with 3.17 goals a game last year.
Chiarelli also went into the offseason intending to add another top-nine forward, so the tinkering may not be done, especially with the need for some potential insurance for Nathan Horton as he looks to return from a concussion that sidelined him the second half of this past season. Prospects like Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner may play their way into spots in camp as well, though they'll face a tougher struggle to stick with the big club now that Kelly and Campbell will remain in the fold.
Outside of the significant change in goal with Tuukka Rask taking the reins while Tim Thomas takes his sabbatical, the Bruins don't look like they will radically change their roster for the upcoming season. That could be risky for a team that failed to get out of the first round this spring. But when that roster was also in place to win a Cup just one year ago, it is even more prudent not to overreact and allow a championship caliber lineup to be dismantled.
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