Torey Krug took his talents to the St. Louis Blues in NHL free agency Friday, leaving the Boston Bruins without a valuable defenseman and key power play contributor.
Krug admitted Friday night that he was "not close" to remaining with the Bruins, and that the team made an offer "about a year ago" and ultimately pulled it.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney met with reporters in a video press conference Saturday, and he was asked about Krug's departure. Sweeney noted that term was one area where the two sides were apart. Krug was able to get a seven-year contract worth $45.5 million from the Blues.
"I’ll address Torey. Obviously, I’m not talking about players that are on other teams. In this sense, I’ll leave it in the context of a player and how we do communicate effectively," Sweeney explained. "I think that we take a lot of pride in maintaining that communication. Not agreeing, from a contractual standpoint, is never disrespecting a player. You just don’t find the common ground. The bottom line is we fell short on term.
"But from a competitive standpoint and what offers were made, we were very comfortable in the position we were in and what we tried to accomplish. And in full respect to Torey, as I’ve said previously, or any player heading to the market and testing the market and finding the value they seem comfortable, that’s their entitlement. They’ve reached that point and they’re able to do that. And the club has to, during that period of time, has to have plans accordingly, whether or not it’s with that current player moving forward or a different player."
The Bruins have not yet replaced Krug's role on the blue line, and it's a big one to fill. Krug was a top-four defenseman who averaged 40-plus points over the last five seasons, while also quarterbacking the top power play unit and providing tremendous leadership.
One player who won't replace Krug is Alex Pietrangelo. The Blues captain is an unrestricted free agent, and it doesn't look like a return to St. Louis is going to happen after the team committed big money and term to land Krug.
Sweeney confirmed he has not spoken to Pietrangelo's representatives during free agency, but he is exploring other options on the market.
"We’re comfortable having conversations with the remaining free agents that we feel would help our club," Sweeney said. "I have not, full disclosure in this case, I have not had a discussion with Pietrangelo’s camp.
"We feel that our right side might not be the absolute best fit for our club. Very respectful for the player, an elite player in the National Hockey League. That’s not the discussion we’ve had. In regards to other players, we’re certainly engaging the interest on both sides of it and seeing what we can potentially fit in."