When the Boston Bruins signed David Backes, there was already a bit of a back log of centers. It already seemed the Bruins career of Chris Kelly may be over, but the signing of the St. Louis Blues center all but confirmed it. Today, Kelly returned to the Ottawa Senators, where he began his NHL career, on a one year agreement.
Kelly heads to Ottawa for one year and $900,000. Kelly was acquired by Boston from Ottawa at the 2011 trade deadline, and he became a key contributor to their Cup run that season as the third line center, scoring five goals and 13 points over the course of the playoff run. In 2011-2012, his first full season in Boston, Kelly scored 20 goals.
Acquired for a second round draft pick, the addition of Kelly to a Cup-contending team that season has been noted as former Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli’s better moves. However, Kelly never quite could live up to the four year, $3 million annual average extension he signed following that season.
Kelly spent the remainder of his time in Boston as a third or fourth line center and a prime penalty killer. He missed much of the 2015-2016 season with a broken leg, and it had been suspected he had played his last game in a spoked B uniform.
A 1999 draft pick of the Senators, the 35-year-old has 277 career points in 751 games that span over Ottawa and Boston tenures. He is expected to be a depth center for Ottawa, and serve as a veteran leader. He often donned the “A” for alternate captain over his five plus years in Boston.
The Bruins already have to deal with a glut of centers, that includes Backes along with David Krejci, coming off of hip surgery, and Ryan Spooner, who played his first full NHL season. With the free agency period not even a week old, there are more moves to be made by Don Sweeney and company in Boston.