You’re probably wondering why I am doing a “whatever happened to” about a player who is still Boston Bruins property. It’s true that he remains Bruins’ property, but we will probably never see him in the Spoked B again. I’m talking about 2013 third round pick Peter Cehlarik – the 90th pick in his draft class.
There is a fraction of Bruins fans that feel the blame for not having any success in the NHL falls squarely on Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy. Well, they are entitled to their opinion as am I.
Fuel was added to the fire when Cehlarik gave an interview in his native Slovakia suggesting there were trust issues with Cassidy. He was frustrated that he was not in the NHL full time but what did he (and the fans that stand by him) think? The NHL has not, is not and never will be a developmental league. When it comes to the Bruins, that work has to be done in Providence, not Boston and if you are not ready for the big league, it’s back to Providence you go. Whether you agree or not, Cehlarik was not ready for prime time in the NHL.
General Manager Don Sweeney attempted to trade Cehlarik at the trade deadline in 2020, but interest was very minimal and obviously, we know now that no deal came to fruition. So, at the end of the 2019-2020 season, Cehlarik packed his bags and went looking oversees.
His first choice was to try and secure a deal with the Kontinental Hockey League. Lokomotiv had drafted him 27th overall at the 2016 KHL Draft but traded his rights to Avangard in May of 2021. When no deal could be reached for the 2020-2021 season, Cehlarik joined Leksands IF of the Swedish Hockey League.
Supporters of Cehlarik were out in full force when Cehlarik produced 20 goals and 20 assists in 45 games during the 2020-2021 season in the SHL, not the NHL, or the KHL for that matter.
To further enhance the argument, Cehlarik had a tremendous World Championship in 2021 scoring 5 goals and adding 6 assists in 8 games and being named the tournaments best forward as well as top-3 player on his team.
The final nail in the coffin was the great start he had with Avangard this season in the KHL, posting 13 goals and 8 helpers in 31 games.
Cehlarik has always been a top of the schedule producer and as the season progresses, he slows to a snail’s pace. Take this season for instance. In his first 16 games of the KHL season he had 10 goals and 4 assists. In his last 15 games he has just 3 goals and 4 assists. He’s gone from 7 powerplay goals in the first half to just 1 in the second half.
The same thing happened in the SHL. He was abysmal in the playoffs with just one assist in 4 games and a bad minus-6. It happened in Boston as well, start off good and then disappear. You can blame the coaching staff for that and feel like he wasn’t given the opportunities. But explain to me the KHL and SHL.
We all have our binkies, myself included. And when things don’t work out, we are looking for someone to blame. I guess that’s human nature.
As for Cehlarik, the Bruins hold his rights until June 30, 2023, at which time he becomes an unrestricted free agent. His KHL contract expires after this season, April 30 2022 to be exact. Unlike David Krejci who is an unrestricted free agent and would need to clear waivers to come back to the NHL for the playoffs, as a restricted free agent Cehlarik would not.
Could it happen? Never say never in this business. But I don’t think so.
Follow me on Twitter @dominictiano