Now don’t get me wrong, Chris Kelly is the definition of a true Bruin. He kills penalties, blocks shots and is a great leader, but considering the Boston Bruins‘ salary cap situation, GM Peter Chiarelli needs to to follow through and cut ties with the veteran.
Since joining the squad in 2010, Kelly has only made it through one full season. Yet, it is not so much being injury prone that worries me, it is the fact that he has not lived up to his $3 million cap hit. He signed a four-year extension with the B’s in 2012 that guaranteed him $12 million, but at this point, he has not preformed like Chiarelli hoped for. He netted a mere nine goals and added nine assists in the 57 games he suited up for last season.
It is discouraging to see the lack of production on the scoresheet, but Kelly is valuable to the Bruins in other ways. At 33-years-old, Kelly has been in the league for over 10 years. He was with the B’s when they last hoisted the Cup, and his “team first” mentality is contagious. That is why Chiarelli locked him up long-term.
Kelly missed the majority of the 2014 playoffs due to injury, which opened the door for Carl Soderberg and Matt Fraser, who joined Loui Eriksson on the third line. The trio was debatably the best line for the B’s throughout the postseason, so we should expect head coach Claude Julien to try to keep the line in tact.
Chiarelli stated this offseason that he wants to keep building the chemistry from last year and give some of the youngsters a chance in the NHL. It does not seem very likely that Kelly will fit into the roster next season, so it does not make much sense to keep the veteran around when he is taking up valuable cap space and not producing.
The Bruins are in a tight financial situation, but buying out Kelly might give them just enough money to get a free agent who could compete on the first-line and help get the B’s back to the Stanley Cup.