Cam Neely: Door open for both David Krejci, Tuukka Rask to return to Bruins

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Could David Krejci or Tuukka Rask still return to Bruins this season? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Two franchise stalwarts will be noticeably absent when the Boston Bruins open the 2021-22 season Saturday against the Dallas Stars.

David Krejci signed with a team in his native Czech Republic over the summer and Tuukka Rask remains unsigned as he recovers from offseason hip surgery. But the door isn't shut on a return from either player, team president Cam Neely said Wednesday, either one of which could bolster a roster with aspirations of contending for a Stanley Cup.

"We told them both that the door is open if they do decide to come back," Neely said. "That remains to be seen for both of them. It really depends on where they're at both mentally and physically."

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Krejci has played 15 seasons in the NHL, all with the Bruins, after being drafted in the second round in 2004; Rask was traded to Boston while still a prospect in 2006 and would go on to play 14 seasons on Causeway Street. Both players were on the roster in 2011 when the Bruins last won the Stanley Cup, with Krejci leading the postseason in scoring and Rask serving as backup to Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas in goal.

Rask, who has said he'll only play in the NHL again for the Bruins, won't be ready to play until around the new year -- and has said he'll do so for cheap.

In the meantime, Boston signed Linus Ullmark away from the Buffalo Sabres on a four-year, $20 million pact in free agency and also have youngster Jeremy Swayman for depth at goaltender. The team has not announced a starter for Saturday's opener vs. Dallas.

Krejci has seven goals and five assists for 12 points over 10 games for Olomouc HC in the Czech Extraliga, the top level of competition in his home country. He has said that returning to Boston this spring is "definitely not in the game," but the Bruins appear to have some optimism internally that he could still change his mind.

"From Krejci's perspective, I know the family situation was very important to him, rightfully so," Neely said.