Player Rating: 6.2
“Huh,” you think. “Weird that Peter Cehlarik gets a full review when he only played in 20 games.”
Yes, you’re correct. It is weird, and shows that I have few, if any, rules on who gets what kind of review. ANARCHY. The real reason for this, is that I am an unabashed Peter Cehlarik cheerleader, so it’s worth my while to take a longer look at our man P.C.
For the past few seasons, I could have written the exact same post sometime in August or September: “Is this the year Peter Cehlarik makes the permanent jump to the NHL?”
This year, however, there’s a little more finality to it: by virtue of three years of pro service, Cehlarik is now waiver eligible (he signed his pro deal at 21). This means the Bruins don’t have the luxury of shuffling Cehlarik up and down on demand. While he’s not exactly a can’t-miss prospect at this point, you have to think there are several teams who’d take a shot on a 6’ 2” wing with offensive talent.
However, that’s next season’s problem. Let’s look at last season.
Cehlarik couldn’t earn a spot out of training camp, and made his first NHL appearance of the season in mid-January. He promptly went out and scored 2 goals on 2 shots. NOT BAD.
He added an assist in his next game, then scored again 5 games later. 4 points in 7 games...P.C. has arrived! He’d eventually slow down to 6 points in 13 games, and then ran into a 7-game pointless streak...and that was all she wrote. The Bruins were getting healthier, and by this point in mid-March, they’d received their trade deadline reinforcements. There was no room at the inn, and back to Providence Cehlarik went in favor of a call-up for Paul Carey.
In that 20-game snapshot, we have the perfect summary of Cehlarik’s NHL career so far: flashes of goodness mixed with droughts, ultimately ending in demotions.
I’m one of the people who thinks Cehlarik deserves a truly extended look; after all, plenty of guys go through droughts of 7 games, right? To be honest, I think Cehlarik would be more of an NHL regular right now were it not for guys named Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen. DeBrusk has more offensive upside than Cehlarik, which is why he’s made himself a home on David Krejci’s left (which would be a natural spot for Cehlarik). Heinen is more of a three-zone player.
This leaves Cehlarik as the odd-man out, as he has been for a few years. He’s great at the AHL level, and just decent enough at the NHL level to be “close, but not quite.” Cehlarik’s possession numbers were great, but there’s a “sample size” warning to be made there; also, he played a bit with Krejci, who undoubtedly helped boost those numbers.
Still, Cehlarik has shown that he has the ability to be a good player. He looked like he found his groove a couple of seasons back before a leg injury derailed things; this season, he looked like he was on fire until...well, until he wasn’t anymore. Looking at the depth chart for the upcoming season, there’s not a lot of room for Cehlarik. He’s not going to play on the fourth line, leaving a couple of realistic options: 2nd-line wing or 3rd-line wing.
Those options will depend greatly on what Bruce Cassidy does with Charlie Coyle (2nd-line wing or 3rd-line center), but I wouldn’t mind seeing Cehlarik get a shot on that 2nd line. The caveat? This needs to be a real extended look. If Cehlarik breaks camp with the big club, they need to be willing to ride it out, or risk losing him for nothing.
It wouldn’t be the end of the world, of course, but it would be disappointing for that to happen again.
Ultimately, Cehlarik hasn’t been screwed over or anything. He just hasn’t quite done enough to earn that permanent roster spot. Some of that was due to injuries, some due to bad luck, and some due to the talent ahead of him.
If this is the year it all comes together for Cehlarik, the Bruins’ (and his own) patience will have paid off.
If not, Cehlarik will likely be playing for a different organization at this time next year.