( Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau / Getty Images )

By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26

In the 2021 offseason, Boston Bruins’ longtime center David Krejci announced that he would return to his home in the Czech Republic to play for HC Olomouc. Throughout the 2021-22 NHL season, Bruins fans were pondering whether Krejci could return to the Bruins lineup ahead of the 2022 NHL Playoffs. The speculation didn’t come to fruition, and the Bruins went into the playoffs without Krejci. He ultimately finished last season with HC Olomouc and recorded 20 goals and 26 assists in 51 games while he served as an assistant captain for the team.

On August 8th, the Boston Bruins announced that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci signed with the club on one-year deals. The contracts come at a team-friendly cap hit, with Bergeron’s at $2.5 million and Krejci’s at $1 million with significant incentive bonuses. With the new deals in place, it’s safe to say the Bruins have solidified their depth down the middle for next year.

With Krejci returning to the Boston Bruins organization, here’s a look at where he’d fit in the lineup:

To start the 2022-23 season, the Bruins will be without Brad Marchand in their forward lineup as he is recovering from successful hip arthroscopy and a Labral repair on his hip. Marchand is expected to miss the first month or two of the season. With Marchand’s surgery, Bruins’ head coach, Jim Mongomery, will be restructuring Boston’s top-six forward lines to start the season.

When Marchand does return, Krejci will be slotted on the second line with wingers Taylor Hall (LW) and, potentially, fellow countryman David Pastrnak (RW). Krejci and Pastrnak have strongly desired to play on the same line for some time now. The two Czech natives have shown remarkable chemistry as they combined for 22 points in the IIHF World Championships in May and won the bronze medal against the United States.

“Who wouldn’t want to play with one of the best players in the world?” Krejci responded when he was asked about the possibility of playing on the same line as Pastrnak in his video conference on Tuesday. “I was lucky enough that I got to play with him on the same line at the World Championships. That was a turning point in my decision to return to the NHL, just playing with him and seeing what we could do together. That’s pretty cool. It would be nice to play with him. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to play with him this year.”

“But that’s not the only reason I’m coming back,” Krejci added. “I want to be on the same team with him, but I talked a lot with Bergy this summer, and we’re coming back to make a push. I’m not sure how many years we have left, but we’re coming back to do something because we believe in the team. We’ll see what happens.”

Krejci and Pastrnak have proven to be a lethal combination, and by adding Hall to the mix, the trio could become one of the NHL’s deadliest second lines. Krejci also has some experience playing with Hall as they were paired together after Boston acquired Hall at the trade deadline in 2021. With the speed and skill of Pastrnak and Hall next to the playmaking and vision of Krejci, one would assume that they would feed off one another’s play style.

Another option Jim Montgomery has is to slot Hall elsewhere in the lineup and place newly signed forward and Czech native Pavel Zacha on the left wing with Krejci. Zacha is a power forward known for his quick release, skating ability, and size, which allows him to get inside position on defenders. Given Krejci’s track record when playing with power forwards such as Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, and Jarome Iginla, Zacha could be a perfect fit for Krejci’s winger. A Zacha, Krejci, and Pastrnak line combination would also create an all-Czech line, which would be an intriguing storyline for next season.

Krejci is a valuable special teams player, given his offensive awareness and underrated passing. This being said, Krejci has never been the fastest player, and he is in the back half of his hockey career at age 36. His lack of speed may influence where the coaching staff places him on the power play. In previous years, Krejci played on the top power-play unit and rotated between playing on his offside at the left circle and on the top of the umbrella at the point.

Regardless of where Krejci is slotted at even strength and on the power play, we could expect his numbers to reach between the 40-to-60-point range (assuming he plays a full 82 games). Krejci provides leadership and creativity to the Bruins lineup, and with the previous uncertainty surrounding the Bruins’ top-six centers, he is a welcomed addition to the Bruins’ forward group.