Bruins

Bruins Debunked: Torey Krug trade rumors this summer are just that

Bruins Debunked: Torey Krug trade rumors this summer are just that

In a series of “Debunked” articles, we’ll take a look at some of the hot and heavy Bruins rumors from this summer and just how much truth there is, or isn’t, to the grist in the rumor mill.

Of all the trade scenarios out there this offseason for the Bruins, the rumors of Bruins D-man Torey Krug on the block are the most persistent.

They’re also the most logical when all things are considered. The 28-year-old Krug is entering the final year of his contract with the Bruins, and just put together his third consecutive 50-point season punctuated by a postseason that would have him in the Conn Smythe conversation if the Bruins captured the Cup.

Krug finished with six goals and 53 points in 64 games during the regular season while mastering his quarterback role on the power play, but also finished as a minus player for the second time in his NHL career. Then he crushed it during the Stanley Cup playoffs with two goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games while averaging 22:21 of ice time, and more than held his own at both ends of the ice while staying healthy for the entire postseason run.

Krug withstood a crushing hit from Jake Muzzin in the first round against the Maple Leafs and then delivered his own iconic, punishing hit in the Stanley Cup Final.

He’s at the top of his game and in the prime of his career, and because of all that Krug is about to be in line for a massive raise next season. In other words, there’s never going to be a better time for the Bruins to sell higher in trade on their undrafted gem out of Michigan State.

The Bruins could conceivably get the top-6 winger they’ve been looking for in the last two seasons to pair with David Krejci, and they could also clear more than $5 million in cap space while still looking to sign Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.

But the uncertainty of McAvoy and Carlo’s contract status and the lack of a clear PP QB replacement means the Bruins simply can’t deal their diminutive D-man. That’s essentially what Bruins President Cam Neely said when asked about it by NBC Sports Boston earlier this summer as his hockey club was in the midst of their offseason improvement program.

“[Krug] had a fantastic playoff…there’s no question,” said Neely. “It’s the delicate balance you have. You’ll have players on expiring contracts and we talk internally about what we’re going to do and how it’s all going to pan out.

“With Torey he’s one of the top PP defensemen in the league and our power play has been pretty damn good, and has won a lot of games for us. [Matt] Grzelcyk is coming along, but I don’t know if he sees the ice the way that Torey does. And Charlie just hasn’t shown that he’s a No. 1 power-play defenseman just yet. Maybe some of that is just opportunity that hasn’t been there yet because of the way Torey handles the first unit. Torey has been a big part of our success the past few years.”

Maybe McAvoy can be that No. 1 power-play guy and put up 50 plus points as well. But it wouldn’t be good business for the Bruins to deal away Krug until they are 100 percent sure of what they have in McAvoy. 

If the Bruins are expected to have another season close to last year’s runner-up role in the Stanley Cup Final and at the very least continue to keep up with the Atlantic Division joneses in Toronto and Tampa Bay, then they can’t trade Krug headed into this season. Perhaps that line of thinking will change next summer with Krug poised to cash in on a major contract at 29 years old, or even this coming trade deadline if things go southward for the Black and Gold.

There’s even a chance the Bruins will end up waving goodbye to Krug for nothing after this coming season while knowing full well they won’t be able to afford his next contract. In some ways it would be a waste of a prime asset when the Bruins could reap value right now for a player like Krug at the height of his puck-moving, point-producing abilities.

But the bottom line is this: Contending teams like the Bruins don’t deal off prime assets like Krug if they intend to remain contenders. The B’s most certainly intend to do just that and Krug will be a part of it barring anything crazily unforeseen over the next month.

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What career would Bruins have chosen if they weren't hockey players?

What career would Bruins have chosen if they weren't hockey players?

If members of the Boston Bruins didn't make it as professional hockey players, then what would they have done instead?

Well, the players themselves gave some insight into that alternate realm, and Zdeno Chara's back-up career path, in particular, is awesome.

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Defenseman John Moore could see Chara as a politician because of "how cerebral and professional he is," according to The Athletic's Joe McDonald. On the other hand, the captain does have his real estate license, so Brandon Carlo believes he would be a real estate agent.

It's pretty hard to believe that no one pictured Chara as a basketball player. The nearly seven-foot tall big man could've been just what the Boston Celtics needed -- we're kidding of course.

Brad Marchand and Kevan Miller's alternate reality couldn't be any more opposite than Chara's. Both Danton Heinen and Sean Kuraly noted that the pair would either have a hunting show or become hunters in general.

And as for Tuukka Rask? Well, Joakim Nordstrom believes the B's netminder would become a musician of some sort. After all, he did receive an awesome Metallica drum set in honor of his 500th NHL game.

Although they could've done any number of things, we're pretty glad they decided to sport black and gold sweaters.

Bruins at the Break: Charlie McAvoy hoping to rebound from disappointing first half

Bruins at the Break: Charlie McAvoy hoping to rebound from disappointing first half

The “Bruins at the Break” is a five-part series this week with the B’s on a bye, and will examine the first half of the regular season and how it could potentially impact the remaining 31 games in the second half of the year. Today we look at the biggest disappointment prior to the All-Star break.

The list of disappointments isn’t very long for the Boston Bruins through the first 51 games of the regular season.

They built up 70 points and hold a seven-point lead in the division, and many of their key players including David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo are enjoying excellent seasons.

However, it hasn’t been all that great over the last six weeks, as the Bruins have battled a bit with their focus after getting out to a double-digit points lead in the first half of the year, but on balance things have been good for the B’s.

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There have been some individual disappointments, however, and the play of young defenseman Charlie McAvoy has been the biggest one to date.

Fresh off a strong postseason run to the Stanley Cup Final and signing a three-year bridge contract that many thought was going to be for many more years and much more money, expectations were sky-high for the 22-year-old defenseman entering his third full season.

After all, the third year at the NHL level is usually when young No. 1 defensemen really come into their own and really begin to dominate at both ends of the ice. Drew Doughty finished in the Top 10 in Norris Trophy voting and got All-League consideration in his third season, P.K. Subban won a Norris Trophy in his third NHL season and Erik Karlsson scored 78 points and won his first Norris Trophy in his third NHL season as well.

Some other high-end D-men like Victor Hedman took longer to develop, of course, but the 6-foot-6 Hedman also entered the league at 18 years old with an incredibly raw offensive game in a shutdown defenseman’s body.

McAvoy this season has done some good things, so it’s far from an out-and-out disaster. He leads the Bruins with 23:14 of ice time per game in his 48 games played this season, and he’s remained relatively healthy after being plagued with injuries in his first couple of seasons.

McAvoy is blocking shots and playing the physical game most nights, and he’s taken some big, big hits from opponents including getting lined up by T.J. Oshie in a message-sending game by the Capitals right before Christmas. There are some nights he’s been excellent and simply playing instinctively up to his skill level rather than showing the tentativeness that hurts his overall game.

"With Charlie, it’s just, he’s got to stay in the moment, that’s when he plays his best hockey. We’re not in there feeding him,” said Burce Cassidy. “It’s not information overload for that particular type of player. It’s protect the middle of the ice, be assertive with the puck when you see ice and make good decisions when to go.”

But the 22-year-old has seemingly regressed a bit offensively without a single goal in the first half of the season prior to the All-Star break, and is on pace for a very disappointing 28 points for the entire season.

To put it in perspective, Par Lindholm, David Backes, Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton all have more goals than the offensively gifted McAvoy this year. That is not how anybody envisioned things going for a player in McAvoy who many tapped as a potential Norris Trophy candidate this season. Watching players like John Carlson and Roman Josi perform this season makes one realize just how far McAvoy is from reaching that level of play anytime soon.

There have also been some games like the one in Pittsburgh right before the All-Star break when he coughed up a puck to Evgeni Malkin behind the Boston net in the third period, and that directly led to the B’s losing the game. That particular defeat led to Bruce Cassidy sharply criticizing his defensemen overall with the specific message clearly intended for McAvoy.

“We saw some poor defending, poor goaltending I think in Philly. [Against Pittsburgh] I thought it was more of the same to be honest with you,” said Cassidy. “Not so much on the goalie, they were good goals. But we get beat off the wall on the first one. The last one I can’t tell you what happened to be honest with you. It’s a rimmed puck [the] goalie needs to get out and stop. The D need to communicate.

“You need to make a play. You can’t turn the puck over there. There’s too much of that going on. Guys that have offensive ability have to start playing to their strength a little more on our back end, or we have to seriously consider what type of D corps do we want? We are supposed to be mobile, we are supposed to be able to move the puck, break pucks out and add to our offense. Right now that is a challenge for us.”

Given that it was an important game lost on McAvoy’s stick, it sure felt like that message was being sent to the youngster more than anybody else.

There are anticipated growing pains to be sure for a 22-year-old defenseman expected to spur offense and play in a shutdown role against the other team’s best players on a nightly basis, and it sure feels like we’re seeing them with McAvoy this season.

“For me, it’s just playing hockey. Every night I’m lucky and I’m happy I get to take a lot of pride in the defensive side of the game lining up against guys who are world class players. I really take pride in just shutting them down. [Chara] takes a lot of pride in that and he sets the precedent in how we approach those things,” said McAvoy. “Then it’s easy for me to follow his lead. Whatever the game presents is what I try and get [offensively]. I feel like I’m building my game right now. I’m trying to build it from the defensive zone out.

“Things just happen and you’ve just got to play and have fun. At times if I’m going through streaks where I’m not having much opportunity or chances, that’s when I look at it and say where I can start joining in more. But I feel like I’m getting these chances. Some of it is just shooting more, and some of it maybe is just bounces. It’s been kind of new to me where it’s a streak like this. I know that if I build my game from the defense out and that I’m a defenseman first and foremost. If I can do the best I can every night to keep the puck out of our net, hopefully when we get to the other side of the net I can start helping put it in theirs.”

Given the aging nature of Boston’s core group of players and the massive role that McAvoy is expected to play for this team moving forward, it’s no understatement to say they need much more out of their 22-year-old D-man if they are going to do anything this season. They need to him to be more creative, more assertive and more effective when the puck is on his stick and they need McAvoy to be a factor that opponents have to account for on a nightly basis.

While things like Norris Trophies and All-Star recognition are obviously already off the board for him this season, the good news is that McAvoy and the Bruins have 31 games left to find the youngster’s mojo before it really begins to matter once the playoffs get started.