Bruins

Bruins GM Don Sweeney gives update on Torey Krug contract extension talks

Bruins GM Don Sweeney gives update on Torey Krug contract extension talks

The Boston Bruins freed up salary cap space over the last week as a result of two trades made with the Anaheim Ducks, and this situation could make it easier for the team to re-sign defenseman Torey Krug in the offseason.

Krug is arguably the team's most important player eligible for free agency July 1. He will be an unrestricted free agent if unsigned at that time, and as a premier offensive defenseman in the prime of his career, he could command quite a large salary.

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Where do talks stand between Krug's camp and the Bruins? B's general manager Don Sweeney gave a brief update Monday while speaking to reporters after the NHL trade deadline.

"I don’t have an update in terms of a timeline," Sweeney said. "We’ve continued to stay in communication with Torey, whether we find one at an appropriate time between now and the end of the year, I don’t know yet. We’ll have talks, they’ve been very cordial, both sides sort of understand where they are, and whether or not we can bridge something along those lines is to be determined."

Krug has tallied 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in 55 games for the Bruins this season, with 24 of those points coming on the power play. Boston controls 56.22 percent of shots on goal and 53.42 percent of scoring chances during 5-on-5 play when Krug is on the ice, per Natural Stat Trick.

The Bruins should have around $24 million in cap space this summer, which is a pretty good amount of room, but Krug isn't the team's only free agent to bring back. Other important Bruins free agents include left winger Jake DeBrusk (RFA), captain and defenseman Zdeno Chara (UFA), backup goalie Jaroslav Halak (UFA) and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (RFA).

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How important is getting the No. 3 seed for Bruins?

How important is getting the No. 3 seed for Bruins?

After losing the first two games of the round robin, the Bruins have only two places they can finish in the Eastern Conference's seeding: third or fourth.

So while Sunday's round-robin finale against the Capitals will mean more than one last chance to get into a rhythm before the playoffs. It will determine who they end up facing in the first round.

Trying to figure out whether the Bruins should aim for the No. 3 or No. 4 seed is a bit of a headache. After going through the scenarios and for sure getting that headache, it would very much be worth it to grab that No. 3 seed, assuming the current play-in series hold as is.

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If there are no comebacks in the five-gamers, the No. 1 seed would get the No. 12 Canadiens and the No. 2 seed would get the Blue Jackets. The No. 3 seed would get the Islanders and the No. 4 seed would get the Hurricanes.

A potential decisive Game 5 for the Penguins and Canadiens would be Saturday night, meaning that by the time the Bruins and Capitals play each other for third place Sunday, they'll know who awaits the loser (either Pittsburgh or Carolina). Furthermore, the Flyers and Lightning play for first place Saturday, so the 3 and 4 seed would be able to do some light projections as to whom they might get in the second round.

Neither Pittsburgh nor Carolina are desirable opponents, but let's say Pittsburgh comes back and wins. That would mean if the Bruins win and get the No. 3 seed, they get Carolina, and if they lose, they get Pittsburgh.

That's a yucky scenario either way. Pittsburgh, despite not being the toughest matchup for Boston, is a recent back-to-back Cup winner and will have just found life after coming from behind to win their series. Carolina is loaded on the back end, which would be difficult for a Boston team that is rail thin offensively. The Hurricanes can also score, as they were 11th in the NHL in goals per game this season and added up front at the trade deadline. With the way the Bruins are currently playing, that would be a very difficult series.

The Bruins should hope two things happen: First, the Canadiens hold on to sink the Penguins. Then, Boston does the unthinkable and wins a hockey game when they play the Caps. Though there was plenty to like about the Islanders' roster at the stoppage (J.G. Pageau was a good pickup), having seen the Bruins' issues, the Islanders would be a far preferable matchup to getting Carolina.

Really, if the Bruins could get the No. 3 seed, the Islanders could be just the opponent for them in the first round as they get their act together. Like the Bruins, the Islanders are strong down the middle, but they're even worse on the wing than Boston. The Bruins' defense and Tuukka Rask would theoretically handle business against the NHL's 22nd ranked offense while the Bruins try to figure out which wings to assign to centers David Krejci and Charlie Coyle.

A lot can change in the meantime, but there's more to be gained from a win Sunday than learning that winning is indeed possible. The Bruins shouldn't want Carolina (or Pittsburgh). They should want the Islanders and that No. 3 seed.

Bruins' Torey Krug isn't changing his playing style despite unknown future

Bruins' Torey Krug isn't changing his playing style despite unknown future

There are certainly some guys around the NHL who can become preoccupied with their contracts when it comes to their free agent seasons.

Some like Loui Eriksson seem to take it to another level when there’s potential money on the line in a walk year before sinking down to a lower level of play the rest of the time, and others that can become overwhelmed by the unknown right in front of them.

Some can even change their games and play safer knowing an injury or high-risk/high-loss performances could end up hurting them at the negotiating table.

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Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is absolutely none of those things, however, and showed exactly why in Wednesday’s 3-2 round robin loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena in the Toronto bubble. Krug ended up with an assist while playing a team-high 22 minutes of ice time in the game against Tampa Bay, but it was a play toward the end of the first period that showed what the puck-moving defenseman is — and always will be — about.

Blake Coleman took a blindside shot at Brandon Carlo at the defensive blue line after the B’s defenseman got rid of the puck, and Krug too umbrage to his longtime ‘D’ partner getting targeted.  

Krug immediately made a straight line toward Coleman and dropped the gloves with the Lightning agitator acquired at the trade deadline. It was a brief bout that Krug joked on a Zoom call with NBC Sports Boston was more like “throwing pillows”, to be sure.

But the fisticuffs also showed Krug has no intentions of changing the fiery, competitive way he plays, or even worse playing it safe, even with just a few months left on his Bruins contract.

Maybe he stays with the Bruins after this season and maybe there’s just not enough salary cap space to match the big money he’d command on the free agent market, but Krug isn’t ever going to let his individual future get in the way of serving as an on-ice leader for the Bruins.

“To be honest, I never thought twice about [fighting Coleman]. I’ll block a shot with my face if I have to in order to win a Stanley Cup with this group,” said Krug, of the lessons in winning hockey passed on to him during his time in Boston from past B’s defensemen like Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk as well as current veteran leaders like captain Zdeno Chara. “I’m the type of guy that you get what you see. I’m going to give 110 percent, as much as I can. And the group knows it.

That’s why this group is special in the first place because we expect it out of each other regardless of everybody’s individual situation. Regardless of how long somebody has been in the league, we all have each other’s backs and we go to work for each other. We have our own individual contracts and we all do things our certain way, but at the end of it, we all bond and play for each other. That’s what makes a team successful.

One other thing: It seems pretty clear there aren’t going to be any Bruins contract extensions with Krug while the Stanley Cup Playoffs are ongoing.

He said his focus is on the task at hand in the postseason and he’ll think about his contract, his future and the status of his tenure with the Bruins when the current Stanley Cup run has come to either a happy or unfulfilled conclusion.

“I’m not even thinking about [free agency]. My focus right now is on helping the Boston Bruins win hockey games. I really, really enjoy being part of this group. I have lifetime friends on this team. I’m just trying to embrace the opportunity we have here,” said Krug during an exclusive Zoom call with NBC Sports Boston. “It’s unique in a sense that I get to do it in a bubble and we get to hang out every day and enjoy each other’s company. I’m just trying to embrace it. I’ll think about all that other stuff after the season.”

There is still some question about just how much COVID-19 and the significant economic aftershocks of it on the NHL are going to impact player contracts this offseason, and for a few more seasons beyond next one as well.

It may mean that Krug’s seven-year career might be over with the Bruins in the next few months because they simply can’t afford the $7-8 million per season he’ll command amidst the salary cap crunch.

But Krug’s selfless physicality served as the spark plug catalyst for Boston’s improved play in the tight round-robin loss to Tampa Bay, and he showed with his actions that he’s not about to change the feisty spirit to his game — regardless of what the future holds.