Bruins

Don Sweeney expecting 'to have conversations' with Torey Krug on extension

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Don Sweeney expecting 'to have conversations' with Torey Krug on extension

BRIGHTON – With the Bruins now having cost certainty with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo in the last couple of days, the expectation is that they will be moving on to extending the players entering the final year of their contracts with the Black and Gold.

One of the top names on that list of players is Torey Krug, who wasn’t shy when asked over the last couple of weeks about his contract status with the Bruins entering the final year of a deal paying him $5.25 million per season. Krug indicated the Bruins haven’t really approached him with any contract extension discussions, but that he’d also be willing to take a hometown discount just as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have with their recent contracts. Given the seven-year, $53 million contract handed out to Jared Spurgeon by the Minnesota Wild less than a week ago, it’s clear that Krug is going to be facing a substantial raise given the market value for offensive defensemen playing top-4 minutes across the league.

The good news is that buyouts for Matt Beleskey and Dennis Seidenberg will be coming off the books after this season to free up some money, and Kevan Miller and Zdeno Chara could potentially be off the books as well. Don Sweeney was fairly non-committal when asked directly about Krug on Tuesday afternoon while discussing Carlo’s two-year extension, but did indicate a conversation was forthcoming between the Bruins and Krug’s representation.

“Everybody has their place on our hockey club. Torey is an important part of our hockey club. We have some forecasting to do. We have some conversations that have to take place and they will,” said Sweeney. “I have indicated to each of our players that we will have those [contract discussions]. Once I have the ability to forecast a little more accurately then I will have those conversations accordingly.”

There’s little question that Krug holds big time value to both the Bruins, and to any suitors across the NHL that might be looking for him to hit unrestricted free agency.

Krug is amongst the most productive NHL D-men in the league over the last three seasons while averaging nine goals and 54 points over that span, and he’s quarterbacked a PP that’s become a major weapon for the Black and Gold. Both Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy have shown some promise when it comes to putting up numbers on the back end, but at this point neither one of them is ready to replace Krug’s production.

Sweeney said, while asked about all of his free-agent players next summer, those kinds of scenarios will be amongst the projections that the Bruins make about a whopping 10 Bruins players headed to free agency after this season including Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk and Grzelcyk among others.

“We’ve got simultaneous things going on. There’s no prioritization from the standpoint of one player being in front of the other player. It’s just communicating that you have to make those decisions, maybe sometimes they are financially and maybe sometimes it’s based on who is actually coming along to replace those players if they decide to leave,” said Sweeney. “We have players that left our organization this year because they had other opportunities. We understood that well and it may happen again.

“But it won’t be for the Bruins underappreciating what they do for our hockey club. I’ll attack each and every one of them. When they finalize either here or somewhere else? That’s to be determined. But we have to do it with every one of them.”

One would expect the Bruins are going to “attack” things with Krug sooner rather than later now that they’re through the weeds of this summer’s contract stuff.

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Watch Bruins break out into fake line brawl at the end of practice

Watch Bruins break out into fake line brawl at the end of practice

The Bruins have clearly been stuck in a rut as of late while losing back-to-back regulation games for the first time this season, and stuck in a three-game losing streak where they developed some bad habits at the end of an eight-game winning streak.

It’s not really that big of a deal for a B’s hockey club that still holds a double-digit lead in the division, but a 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night really didn’t set them up for a promising road trip with Washington, Tampa Bay and Florida all on the schedule for the rest of the week. With that in mind, the Bruins opted for a little stress relief at the end of Tuesday’s practice in Washington as things devolved into a chaotic, raucous faux line brawl on the ice.

It all started with Tuukka Rask giving up a goal at the end of a game at practice and then smashing his stick repeatedly over the crossbar, and then mass chaos ensued with a sea of Bruins players tackling each other on the ice.

It’s fun to see the Bruins blow off some steam and show they can have a little fun amidst a frustrating stretch, but it would also be nice to see them play with the same kind of energy in their games after sleepwalking through the first portions of games during their current losing streak.

In the old time hockey days, a team might have pre-planned a line brawl situation on the ice to snap out of a slump, or change the energy at a time when the schedule is getting demanding on the players with the Christmas break still weeks away.

But these days the Bruins will have to settle for a little phony shoving and play-punching against each other at the end of practice with the real thing — a big, tough customer in the Washington Capitals — getting ready to host them for a potential Eastern Conference Final preview on Wednesday night.

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How Bruce Cassidy could shake up lines to give struggling Bruins a jolt

How Bruce Cassidy could shake up lines to give struggling Bruins a jolt

Hard times have arrived for the Bruins, at least temporarily.

Boston has lost two regulation games in a row for the first time all season and three games in a row for just the second time all season while falling into complacency with a massive 11-point lead in the Atlantic Division over the next closest team in Florida.

Since dropping eight goals against the Canadiens in an embarrassing blowout win at the Bell Centre a couple of weeks ago, the offense has also slowed down for the Bruins with 16 goals scored over the last seven games. Some of it was about Patrice Bergeron being out of the lineup with a lower body injury, but some of it might also be the team literally crying out for some changes among the forward group combinations.

Now with Bergeron back after scoring a goal against the Senators on Monday night, Bruce Cassidy can actually fool around with his tried and true combinations.

With that in mind, here’s a modest proposal for some line combinations that might just work for the Black and Gold with it feeling like things have gotten a little stale over the last week as ennui seems to have struck with a Bruins team not getting pushed by anybody right now:

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Anders Bjork

This is perhaps Boston’s best chance to mix and match their forward lines while looking to get some diversity in their scoring attack during 5-on-5 play. Bjork brings the same kind of skating speed and youthful exuberance that David Pastrnak already brings to this line, and it seems that now Bjork understands the doggedness and two-way responsibilities he’ll need to pay attention to in order to stay at the NHL level.

Best of all, playing with Marchand and Bergeron could give Bjork more scoring opportunities and really boost his confidence to turn into the goal-scoring source he was projected to be when he first signed with the Bruins. The trick would be switching Bjork from left wing to his off-wing on the right side where he’s had challenges in the past, but it seems like he’s better-equipped to deal with it now that he’s healthy and a couple of years into his NHL career.

Jake DeBrusk-David Krejci-David Pastrnak

There are Bruins fans everywhere clamoring for Krejci and Pastrnak to play together given their natural, Czech-born chemistry and some of the success that they have had in the past. Sliding Pastrnak down to the B’s second line would really make each of Boston’s top two lines formidable in their own right, and make them much more difficult to defend while not being quite as top-heavy as they are with the Perfection Line.

The one concern in the past has been that Pastrnak doesn’t score at quite the same rate when he’s away from Bergeron and Marchand, and that DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak can probably be exploited a bit defensively. That’s part of the reason Danton Heinen is with them right now given his attention to detail playing a strong two-way game. But Krejci and Pastrnak can be fun to watch and could bring some pizzazz to the second line.

Danton Heinen-Charlie Coyle-David Backes 

This would be a return to the third-line glory years of a couple of seasons ago when Heinen and Backes were the two wings and Riley Nash was the center who seemed to bring the best out of them. This line certainly wouldn’t be the fastest given that Coyle is the best skater of the three, but it would be offensively viable with all three forwards capable of scoring 15-plus goals in a season.

Also, the massive size of both 6-foot-3, 220-pound Coyle and 6-foot-3, 215-pound Backes would give the Bruins' third line a heavy, thumping style of play that could wear down other teams while playing the puck possession game. They wouldn’t be all that dynamic, but it could be a really effective third line if the top two forward lines are based on speed and skill.

Chris Wagner-Sean Kuraly-Brett Ritchie

Certainly an argument could be made for Joakim Nordstrom to be here and really he’s done nothing to get taken out of the lineup. But this humble hockey writer’s opinion is that the fourth line isn’t playing with the same jam and physicality as consistently as they did last season, and that is a big-time need on this Bruins team this season.

So this combo could be a big, heavy and punishing group capable of both playing against other teams' top lines and bringing energy, thump, or whatever is needed for a group that is going through the motions right now. A lot of it comes down to Ritchie, though, who needs to play to his size and strength more often if it’s all going to work. Otherwise the Bruins might as well just go with Nordstrom and utilize Ritchie as their extra forward until the light bulb goes off for him.

Bonus line combo: Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Charlie Coyle

This isn’t likely to be a line combo you’ll see much unless injuries hit, but shifting the big, strong Coyle to the wing and bringing his power forward game to the top line could be a great match.

Certainly Coyle might not be the shoot-first presence that one is usually looking for at the right wing spot alongside Bergeron and Marchand, but the one consistent way to frustrate that line is for a big defensive corps to wear them down physically while pushing them away from the net. It’s what the Tampa defense did successfully in the playoffs a couple of years ago and it’s what St. Louis was able to do against them in the Stanley Cup Final last season.

Coyle would make it a lot more difficult to push around the other two parts of the Perfection Line, and that could be a successful look against bigger D-men personnel. It would require Par Lindholm to be inserted into the lineup (and Backes or Ritchie scratched) as the third-line center, but that’s entirely doable based on Boston’s forward depth.

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