BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk can rest a little easier after agreeing to a two-year contract with the team last week.
After signing on the dotted line on Friday, the 24-year-old no longer has to worry about the dance of a restricted free agent. He can now focus on improving for the 2018-19 season, knowing he’ll be donning the Spoked-B when training camp gets underway in September.
While that new two-year pact (and pay raise) gives Grzelcyk loads more confidence heading into his second full season in the NHL, it’s not going to take away from his competitive drive. He knows that with lots of young talent throughout the organization, he’s still going to have to earn his spot on the Boston blue line next season.
“I don’t think I want to be too comfortable and I want to make sure I earn everything I get. But it does help from a peace-of-mind standpoint, not having to look over your shoulder as much,” Grzelcyk told reporters at the Bruins practice facility on Monday. “There is still a lot of competition in camp, so I’m looking forward to having a good summer and being healthy, going into next year and earning my ice time.”
Grzelcyk saw action in 61 games last season, scoring three goals to go with 12 assists. He finished a plus-21 during the regular season and averaged nearly 17 minutes of ice time, giving him a good idea what he needs to improve this offseason to take his game to the next level.
“I can always get bigger and stronger. That’s what I always work on,” said Grzelcyk, who is a tad undersized at 5-foot-9 and 175 lbs. “Offensively, using my feet to my advantage more on the blue line, and obviously, my shot has been pretty much No. 1 that I wanted to improve. I’m working hard on that and hopefully it makes a difference come September and training camp.”
It’s just a bonus that this new deal keeps Grzelcyk, a Charlestown native and former Boston University Terrier, close to home.
“It gives me more comfortability now. I can take a quick drive and visit my parents. In college they used to do my laundry, and I was lucky to have that support just down the street,” he said. “It’s obviously pretty cool.”
He’s since learned to handle his own laundry duties, thanks to his mother’s tutelage. You won’t be seeing Grzelcyk make any extravagant purchases (he joked that going out and buying a Lamborghini isn’t his style), but he’ll certainly be taking his family out to dinner a little more often.
“It’ll be nice to treat my family a little more than usual,” he said of his bigger paydays. “Hopefully they don’t abuse it, but I’ll definitely treat them.”
With the new contract, and the success of Boston’s younger roster last season, Grzelcyk knows that higher expectations will also follow.
“I think it’s fair. We had a really good year and we would have liked to have played longer, but I think if you told a lot of people that year would happen heading into the season we’d be happy and surprised. Expectations are definitely going to grow and we know that going forward,” he said. “It’s on us to come back better, bigger and stronger next year.”