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The 2013-14 campaign was frustrating for Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly, who missed 25 regular-season games and the entire Stanley Cup playoffs because of injuries. He’ll enter training camp Thursday fully healthy, though, and should play a valuable bottom-six role for the Bruins.
Position: Center, Winger
2013-14 Stats: 9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points in 57 games
Contract: Two more years, with a $3 million salary-cap hit each year
What He Will Bring The Team
Kelly should provide the Bruins with scoring depth on the third or fourth line. He’s not known as a scorer, but the veteran forward did have a career-high 20 goals in 2011-12, his last healthy 82-game season.
Kelly also is a key part of the Bruins’ penalty kill, a unit that ranked eighth with a 83.6 percent success rate in 2013-14. He averaged 1:51 of penalty-kill ice time per game last season, tying Gregory Campbell for the second-highest among B’s forwards. One reason why Kelly excels on the penalty kill is his faceoff prowess. He has won 53 percent of his faceoffs since arriving in Boston.
Leadership is another important element of Kelly’s game. He’s a highly respected voice in the room as a 10-year veteran and former Stanley Cup champion who wears an “A” on his chest as an alternate captain.
Kelly also gives head coach Claude Julien valuable versatility with his ability to play at center or on the wing.
Weakness That Must Be Improved
Durability is a tough thing to improve as someone ages, but there’s definitely concern about Kelly’s ability to play a healthy, full season at 33 years old.
The veteran forward missed just nine total regular-season games from 2005-06 through 2011-12, and injuries didn’t take a heavy toll on him until the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, when he missed 14 games. Kelly missed time last season after being slashed by Pittsburgh Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis on Dec. 7, and he later had back issues that ultimately required surgery in May.
Expected Role For 2014-15
Kelly should have a better season than most fans expect if he stays healthy. He plays a key role defensively with his faceoff ability and penalty-killing skill while also consistently back checking and playing a physical game.
It’s possible Kelly could play center on the fourth line if the B’s move Campbell to the right wing spot vacated by Shawn Thornton’s offseason departure. That move would free up a spot on the third line, where center Carl Soderberg might need two new wingers. If Kelly plays with Soderberg, he’ll probably slot in at left wing, a duo Julien used at times last season when both players were in the lineup.
Projected 2014-15 Stats: 13 goals, 15 assists in 74 games
Watch NESN’s Billy Jaffe and Andy Brickley give their take on Kelly in the video below.
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