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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