The Bruins finally announced what had been almost a week in the making: Gregory Campbell and Chris Kelly are both coming back to Boston with long-term deals. Now, nearly their entire squad from last season will be back.
Campbells deal is for three years and 1.6 million per season while Kelly will net a four-year deal worth 12 million that cant officially be signed until July due to payroll tagging issues within the salary cap.
"They are glue guys," said bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "Both players expressed high interest in staying with the Bruins, and we were able to find a way to make it work with them. Given the lack of center depth out on the open market I think it goes without saying that both players bypassed better deals in free agency to stay with the organization.
These are guys that can play and are responsible players, but they also have that character and that drive. They have that. To make little sacrifices in where they play and the way that they play and to check your ego . . . its not a magical formula. Its just a matter of finding those kinds of players. Bringing these guys in was a really good fit for the team, and its an even better fit for the future.
Kelly reached 20 goals for the first time in his career with the Bruins in 2011-12 and solidified himself as a dependable, responsible third line center on a Cup caliber team with the Black and Gold. He finished among the NHLs top 10 in plusminus and also was one among several hand-picked players Claude Julien would routinely choose for duty when closing out the last few minutes of close games.
"There was no real decision other than to come back and be part of the Bruins organization," said Kelly. "Chiarelli knew that I wanted to come back and I knew that they wanted to have me back. Theres no better feeling than to be wanted, and to come back to such a great organization.
The Bruins are the definition of a team. They have a chance to be successful for a lot of years. Thats why I wanted back.
Campbell was a key member of Bostons Merlot Line during their run to the Stanley Cup, and has formed with Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille to give Boston a fourth line thats become increasingly important in the NHL.
"Were a line that is valued and thats a rare thing in the NHL," Campbell said. "I think the importance of depth and a fourth line is something thats really come to light in the last few years. When you see the teams that have won, theyre teams that have relied on their whole lineup. Our role is different from other players and its not as glamorous. But thats what I like about Boston. Were appreciated for everything that we do and we just try to contribute in any way possible."
With a salary cap that could reach as high as 70.3 million next season, the Bruins have slightly less than 6 million in salary cap space with a number figured in for either Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton as the sixth defenseman.