The Bruins are getting an up-close look at their future this week with the club's inaugural Development Camp.

The Bruins are getting an up-close look at their future this week with the club's inaugural Development Camp.


They might also be getting a peek at the present.


Center David Krejci is one of a handful of the prospects skating this week at Ristuccia Arena who already has pro experience. He even made it up to Boston for six games with the big club in 2006-07. This year, he's hoping to stay in Boston a lot longer.


"It's my dream," said Krejci of playing in the NHL. "I'll do everything I can to make the team this year. But if not, it's hockey. I'll play hard again and try to make it later."


Krejci's waiting days might soon be over. A second-round pick in 2004 (63rd overall), he moved from the Czech Republic to Canada to play his Junior hockey for Gatineau in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, then moved up to the American Hockey League last year.


His first exposure to pro hockey earned rave reviews, as he led Providence in scoring with 74 points in 69 games, then added a team-high 16 points in 13 postseason games.


"During the course of the season in Providence, I watched him emerge," said Bruins director of player development Don Sweeney, who is running this week's camp. "I saw him rounding out his game, filling in the gaps. Then in the playoffs he took it to another level. Particularly Hartford tried to run him pretty hard, and it didn't even faze him. He didn't change his game one bit. You like to see that, especially in your skill players."


Krejci collected nine points in the opening-round series with Hartford, leading the Baby B's to victory in seven games. Manchester eliminated Providence in the next round despite another seven points from Krejci. This week, Krejci returned to the ice with his fellow prospects.


"He told me he hadn't skated since Manchester," said Sweeney. "But he's in good shape and you can only imagine what he'll look like in six weeks or so."


In six weeks, the Bruins will open their regular training camp, and the competition for jobs will begin in earnest. The only addition Boston made in free agency was the signing of enforcer Shawn Thornton for the fourth line, so the opportunity is there for a playmaker like Krejci to crack the lineup.


Just don't expect the soft-spoken 21-year-old to say much about his chances.


"It's not for me to say," said Krejci. "I feel very confident. I had a good year last year, but I have a lot of work to do. I've got to get stronger and faster, and hopefully I will this year."


Sweeney expects Krecji's progress to continue. "As the year went on down in Providence, his confidence grew," said Sweeney. "He understands he still has a ways to go, but he has a willingness to work to get there."


Krejci has been showing his maturity as well as his skills this year, taking his "veteran" status at the camp to heart.


"He's taken a little bit of a leadership role here," said Sweeney. "I asked him to do that. There's a couple kids coming over from the Czech Republic who don't speak English very well, and he's gone out of his way to make them feel comfortable, both on and off the ice."


On the ice, it's easy to get comfortable playing alongside Krejci, whose touch and vision give him the tools to become an elite set-up man.


"It's so easy to play with him," said fellow prospect Martins Karsums, who was with Krejci in Providence last year. "He's unbelievable. He's just a great player. He sees the ice great, shoots the puck well. I don't think there's anything negative I can say about him."


Even Krejci admitted some surprise at his success last year. He topped the 30-goal plateau with a team-high 31, a number he never reached in Junior.


"I wasn't a shooter, I'm more of a passer," said Krejci. "I was still a passer last year, but I scored a lot more goals than I expected, than everybody expected."


That finishing ability could open up more opportunities for Krejci. With Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and Phil Kessel manning the top three center positions in Boston for the foreseeable future, a move to wing could be Krejci's quickest path to the NHL.


"I was playing wing since I was little," said Krejci. "But since midget I've been at center, so it's been about six years. I feel more comfortable in the middle. That's my game, I like to be with the puck, making plays."


Wherever he lines up, you can count on Krejci making plays. Very soon he might be making those plays in the NHL.