A Bergeron-Krejci Bruins reunion could be productive, but it would be defying NHL history

A Bergeron-Krejci Bruins reunion could be productive, but it would be defying NHL history

If Patrice Bergeron decides to continue his NHL career with the Bruins in 2022-23, he will do so as a 37-year-old. If David Krejci opts to do the same, he will return to the league at 36 years old.

The pair of centers would be exceptional, in every meaning of the word.

In 2021-22, 659 forwards made at least one regular-season appearance in the NHL. Only two teams employed two forwards who were at least 37 and 36: Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

Corey Perry (37) scored 40 points in 82 games for the Lightning. Perry’s fellow graybeard was Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who scored 20 points in 80 games.

Player Age Games Points

37

82

40

37

80

20

In Pittsburgh, Jeff Carter (37.45 points in 76 games) and Brian Boyle (37.21 points in 66 games) qualified for the NHL’s version of senior discounts.

This aligns with historical representation. In the past 10 years, among 1,491 forwards who played at least one game, there were 37 such cohorts for an average of 3.7 per season.

Some were effective tandems. Vancouver, for example, enjoyed the wizardry of Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The wonder twins did not suffer the ravages of NHL longevity to the extent of most of their peers. In 2017-18, their final NHL season, the 37-year-old Sedins combined for 105 points in 163 games. Henrik Sedin played in all 82 games. Daniel Sedin missed just one.

The Sedins, however, are destined for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Time is not as kind to players who are less blessed.

Consider the duo of Scott Nichol (38) and Jamie Langenbrunner (37) St. Louis rolled out in 2012-13. The grinding forwards teamed up for two points in 34 games. Their black-and-blue styles, in all likelihood, contributed to their decline in production.

That year, the Bruins had their own aging combination: Jaromir Jagr and Jay Pandolfo. Jagr (41) and Pandolfo (38) combined for nine points in 29 games.

This sample shows the rarity and the challenge of rolling two forwards of these ages. They are more subject to the rigors of time: injuries, underperformance, wear and tear, younger alternatives. In 2012-13, for example, the Bruins had Tyler Seguin and Daniel Paille, respectively, as options they could use instead of Jagr and Pandolfo.

Teams are also wary of investing in 35-and-older players because of cap implications. If such a player signs a multi-year deal and either retires or suffers a career-ending injury, the team is not eligible for cap relief.

Bergeron and Krejci are committed to fitness. Bergeron had elbow and nose injuries in 2021-22. But he steered clear of the snout troubles that slowed him earlier in his career. Bergeron scored 65 points in 73 games.

Krejci scored 46 points in 51 games for HC Olomouc this past season. He also represented Czechia in the Olympics and the recently completed World Championships alongside David Pastrnak.

Their most recent histories, then, do not feature physical red flags when forecasting 2022-23 performance. But Bergeron and Krejci would have to want to continue playing. The Bruins would have to sign both centers to contracts. This would most likely require corresponding transactions to clear cap space. Their fortune of good health would have to continue.

The Bruins would not bring Bergeron and Krejci back to be middle-of-the-road NHL players. They would sign them to be No. 1 and No. 2 centers.

The organization would be delighted if both performed to the levels they set in their most recent NHL seasons. Bergeron averaged 0.89 points per game in 2021-22. Krejci was at 0.86 in 2020-21.

Of the 37 previous cohorts of the last 10 years, only one approached such a threshold. In 2013-14, Jagr (42) averaged 0.82 points per game. Patrik Elias (37) was also at 0.82.

In that context, then, for Bergeron and Krejci to come close to their previous degrees of production would be historic. The Bruins would be just fine with that.

(Photo of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron: John E. Sokolowski / USA Today)

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