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Coming into the 2007 season, not many outside of NHL prospect circles knew the name David Krejci. The center from Sternberk, Czech Republic was somewhat lightly regarded in his draft year, hearing 62 names called before hearing his own in the 2nd round of the 2004 entry process.
Krejci spent the next two seasons honing his game for the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior League, one of Canada’s premier junior hockey leagues. Although the young pivot put up decent numbers in the Q, especially in his final season, few predicted Krejci to be more than a 2nd or 3rd line center at the NHL level.
After leaving Gatineau for the Providence Bruins in 2006, Krejci’s game blossomed, as the pivot scored 102 points in 94 games over parts of two seasons, all while being one of the youngest players in the league.
Krejci’s stellar play earned him a call-up in the 2007-08 campaign, and he proved his worth, playing in 56 games for Boston, notching 28 points in the process. The real revealation came in last year’s epic seven-game playoff series against the rival Montreal Canadiens, as Krejci was a force in every game, finishing the series with 5 points in 7 games.
To say Krejci’s dominant play from last season has carried over to this year’s campaign would be a severe understatement. Consider this: Krejci currently has 17-31-48 totals in 43 games, good for a 1.12 PPG average. These numbers put Krejci in the top 10 league-wise for points and points-per-game, but these figures pale in comparison to what he has accomplished since mid-November, when the Bruins dominant play began.
Since November 19th, Krejci has 39 points in 25 games, for 1.56 PPG. Extrapolated over an 82-game season, Krejci would finish with 128 points. It’s unlikely he will continue that pace for the remainder of the season, but it’s a good bet Krejci will contend with Marc Savard for Boston’s overall point lead.
Perhaps most impressive however is a quick look around the NHL since Krejci’s dominance began. Over that same time span, Krejci has more points than Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin, and Sidney Crosby. In fact, he has more points than anyone else in the NHL since that date.
Amazing, then, that the NHL has failed to recognize this 22 year old’s play in any way, shape, or form this season. Last week, Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, and Tim Thomas were named to the NHL All-Star Game, the most players from one team in the Eastern Conference (aside from the host Canadiens, who had to rely on computer programs to get Alex Kovalev and Michael Komisarek into the game). I have no qualms with their selections, and perhaps Krejci doesn’t deserve to be in that game. What really confuses me, however, is the fact that the NHL failed to name Krejci to its Young Stars Game, either.
The Young Stars Game is an annual tilt organized by the NHL to showcase its best and brightest young talents not yet ready for the big stage. How then could they fail to recognize Krejci, who has only been the NHL’s most prolific forward over the last two months. Worse, they named Krejci’s less-deserving teammates, Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler. I’m not saying those two don’t deserve to be at the game; they absolutely do, just not over the Magician that is David Krejci.
Alas, the NHL has proven time and again its marketing department isn’t the most apt facet of their business and Krejci’s omission from the Montreal showcase is no different. Until the league realizes that it needs to market its best players, and not necessarily its most marketable, it will continue to pale in comparison to the other Big Three sports.