(Photo Credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

By Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis

Don Sweeney didn’t have an easy job coming into the 2023-24 season. Boston’s General Manager had to navigate the losses of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, replenish a roster devoid of players, and accomplish all of this while staying in compliance with the salary cap. Sweeney had to make a series of shrewd roster choices when constructing the current iteration of the Boston Bruins, and one of his best decisions was the signing of Morgan Geekie.

Geekie’s NHL journey began when the Carolina Hurricanes selected him with the 67th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft. He spent two short stints with the Hurricanes squad in 2019-20 and 2020-21 before going unprotected in the 2021 Expansion Draft. Geekie was scooped up by the Seattle Kraken and registered 16 goals, 34 assists, and 50 points over the next two seasons.

When Seattle refused to extend Geekie a contract offer following last season, Sweeney pounced, inking him to a two-year, $2 million contract early on the first day of free agency. The numbers don’t jump off the page, but Geekie’s advanced stats paint a picture of someone who could produce at a higher volume given more opportunity. Despite playing a fourth-line role in Seattle, the Manitoba native produced 2.47 points per 60 minutes played at even strength, which ranked 31st (yes, 31st) in the NHL. Sweeney was lauded for the ‘high-upside’ signing and took a gamble that the 6’3″ center would elevate his game in Boston.

However, the experiment stumbled out of the gate due to one unexpected development: Matt Poitras. Poitras’ rise and ascendence through training camp relegated Geekie (16-18-34 in 63 games) to the wing, where he could only muster one goal and two assists through his first 12 games. Things worsened for Geekie when he was placed on injured reserve on November 8 with an upper-body injury. The 25-year-old missed almost the entire month of November before returning to the ice mere game before Thanksgiving. That’s when the tide started to turn.

Bruins Head Coach Jim Montgomery moved Geekie to center upon his return to the lineup, and since then, he’s been more than Sweeney could’ve ever expected. It’s been 51 games since Geekie came off IR and slid back into the third-line center role. In those 51 games, he has 15 goals, 16 assists, and 31 points. If he kept that pace up all season, it would put him at .61 points per game. At an 82-game pace, that would put Geekie at 50 points in the season.

But those numbers still don’t tell the whole story of how well Morgan Geekie has played since returning from injury. According to QuantHockey, over the last three months of play (40 games between December 19, 2023-March 19, 2024), Geekie has 12 goals, 12 assists, and 24 points. His 12 goals are tied for 16th in the NHL over that span, ahead of players like Travis Konecny, Robert Thomas, and Ryan O’Reilly. Of those 12 goals, nine have come at even-strength, good enough for 13th in the NHL in that category ahead of Matt Duchene, Dylan Larkin, and Matthew Barzal.

As far as third-line centers go, Geekie has been one of the league’s best this season. Based on every NHL team’s roster following the NHL Trade Deadline, Morgan Geekie has more points than 23 of 31 other centers. Most players with more points than Geekie include skaters who would be top-six centers on almost any other team (Wyatt Johnston, Adam Henrique, Elias Lindholm, Tommy Novak).

Geekie has cemented himself as one of the league’s best third-line centers and has done everything he can to become an indispensable Boston Bruins forward. Geekie had played fourth-line minutes on several occasions when necessary, contributed to the team’s second powerplay unit, and even displayed chemistry with David Pastrnak when elevated in the lineup. The Bruins are at their best when Geekie is lighting the lamp, seeing as the team is 10-4 when he puts a puck in the pack of the net.

Don Sweeney took a calculated gamble when signing a player of Morgan Geekie’s caliber to a multi-year deal worth $2 million, especially given the Bruins cap scenario this offseason. Geekie’s tenure in Boston didn’t start as well as it could have (much like Sweeney’s own tenure), but as the dust has settled and the games have progressed, it’s clear that he is a significant asset to the Bruins. Chalk this one up as another win for Don Sweeney, and look for Geekie to continue to elevate his game as we push toward the playoffs.