On February 15, 2011, the B’s traded a 2011 2nd round draft pick to the Ottawa Senators for Chris Kelly
Although he left his team behind, the veteran center brought both his game and his attitude to Boston.
“We gained a pretty good player and a good leader,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien.
After less than a full year in Black & Gold, Kelly has proved to be both.
In the 24 games Kelly played with the B’s at the end of last season he had five points, but after only 23 games this season, he has 16.
Not only has #23’s offensive production been apparent to his teammates and the city of Boston, it has been apparent to the entire league.
Never a man who prioritized making the League's offensive leader boards, the Toronto native has found his way there this season.
Kelly is tied for second in the NHL in short-handed goals (2) and is ranked second in the league with a plus/minus of +16 (just behind his teammate Tyler Seguin
, +19) .
As such, it is evident that when Kelly is on the ice, he is making things happen.
Previously known more for his defensive play and his value on the penalty kill, the B’s forward has found that if he works hard he finds ways to put pucks in the net.
“Some guys that are just born with that natural ability—that natural hack for finding the net,” said the B’s forward, who is currently tied for third on the team with nine goals.
“Maybe I wasn’t born with that and have to work at it a little bit harder, but I think I can score goals."
The center’s scoring production is proof that he has grown more comfortable in a Black & Gold uniform and been able to develop all parts of his game.
Kelly’s improvements haven’t gone unnoticed.
“Certainly we’ve sen what he’s capable of doing,” explained Julien. "He’s become a real good player."
But then, it didn’t take long for Kelly’s coach to notice his value.
In last year’s playoffs, Julien put his new center on a line with Rich Peverley
and former Bruins winger Michael Ryder and certainly wasn’t disappointed.
“That line just kind of caught fire and scored some big goals for us and were difference makers in some of those games,” said Coach Julien.
In this short time Julien not only saw Kelly's work-ethic, but also saw his leadership. As a result, the B’s Coach decided Kelly would be the right man to share the alternate captain's "A" after Mark Recchi retired.
Kelly, now centering a line with Peverly and newly acquired Benoit Pouliot
, has pleased everyone this season, too.
“It’s what we were hoping to be able to create a little bit and give us another line that can be a threat every time they’re out there and that line right now is doing just that,” added Julien.