The Boston Bruins have two of their most important defensemen, Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug, set to hit free agency in the offseason.
These players are at very different stages of their careers.
Chara is 43 years old and coming off his 22nd season in the NHL (14th with the B's). The Bruins captain made it very clear last week that he wants to return to the team next season.
Krug is 29 years old and eligible to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time. He's been underpaid his entire career and this is his opportunity to cash in with a huge long-term contract. Krug is one of the top three or four players entering free agency this offseason, so it shouldn't be too difficult for him to earn a lucrative deal.
"This is my time in terms of my value at its peak," Krug told reporters last week. "I’m in a position now where I need to make the most of it."
Given the Bruins' salary cap situation now and going forward, it's unclear whether the team and Krug can come up with a deal that works for both sides.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney held his end-of-the-season press conference with reporters Wednesday, and he was asked about the futures of both Chara and Krug.
Here's what Sweeney had to say.
"Well we haven't found a landing spot. Listen I respect Torey coming in as a rookie free agent and making our hockey club. I only hope that we made the moves to accommodate what he and his family and agent feel he has earned. I would be the last person to begrudge any player trying to make the best decision for them and their family, and in a perfect world it's with us, but we know that the world is anything but perfect right about now.
"So again, I don't have an update on any individual contract level. Torey’s personal voice, he’s entitled to say whatever the hell he feels he wants to say. You guys know me well enough that I'm not going to comment publicly on any different contract negotiations other than hoping to find a landing spot when I have good players and people that I feel are important to our organization and Torey is such."
"I saw the reports. We are scheduling zoom meetings with all of our players in the coming weeks. We’ve taken a little bit of time to step away from being away as a group to allow people to catch their breath. We started pro meetings, meet with coaches this week, internal discussions organizationally, so I think we're going to check some boxes that we need to and then we're going to start to address on an individual player level.
"And I respect Zdeno’s comments, he always been an iconic player for us, an important player for us, and we're going to explore opportunities with he and other players that have either UFA or RFA status and hopefully check off the boxes like we have with several other players and continue to move forward and improve our hockey club and addressing Zdeno’s contractual situation is part of that process."