Bruins

NHL Rumors: Big payday expected for Torey Krug, with Bruins or elsewhere

NHL Rumors: Big payday expected for Torey Krug, with Bruins or elsewhere

While Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney managed to free up some cap space at the NHL trade deadline on Monday, Torey Krug has yet to ink a contract extension with the organization.

The 28-year-old defenseman said in September that he would be willing to take a pay cut to remain with the Bruins. He likely won't agree to a massive discount, though, especially considering he's expected to be paid similarly to Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who makes $8 million per year.

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The latest report from The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun doesn't sound too promising for Boston. According to LeBrun, NHL agents believe that Krug will sign a deal from anywhere between $7.5 and $8 million per season -- noting that Boston will not be willing to pay Krug more than stars David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron.

Here's LeBrun:

Boston won’t want to pay Krug more than Pasta ($6.66-million AAV) or Bergeron ($6.875-million AAV),’’ an agent said, according to LeBrun. “I think Krug could get $7-million AAV if goes free, maybe $7.5 million.’

"I would value him between $7.5 million to $8 million," another agent said. "Call him what he is, a consistent 50-point offensive D-man and point a game guy in playoffs.

LeBrun's prediction? Unfortunately for Boston, he believes Krug will hit the open market this summer.

Sweeney's latest update on contract negotiations with Krug also doesn't sound too promising -- noting that he has stayed in contact with Krug, but there is no timeline for a deal to be made.

Boston also needs to re-sign key free agents in Jake DeBrusk (RFA), Zdeno Chara (UFA), Jaroslav Halak (UFA) and Matt Grzelcyk (RFA), among others. So, they'd be in a very sticky salary cap situation if they were to give Krug between $7.5-8 million per year.

Torey Krug hopes he hasn't already played last game for Boston Bruins

Torey Krug hopes he hasn't already played last game for Boston Bruins

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug mentioned several times he has “no clarity” on his future after sitting down for a Boston Bruins-organized Zoom conference call with B’s media members on Tuesday afternoon.

After all, pretty much nobody has any kind of clarity about what’s going to happen over the next few months as regions of the United States are attempting to slow down a global coronavirus outbreak with hot spots in places like Boston.

But there’s another level to the uncertainty for Krug as a looming unrestricted free agent once this 2019-20 season has been finished, one way or the other. Krug hopes that there is some manner of resumption of the regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs over the next few months, and just as passionately hopes he hasn’t played his last game as a member of the Bruins.

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“For me personally, I really hope I did not play my last game as a Boston Bruin. It’s been a special place for me and my family to grow. My love for the game and playing in front of these fans has been very special to me. But [this situation] hasn’t given me any clarity,” said Krug, who also mentioned there have been no contract discussions with the Bruins since the season went on pause in early March. “It makes you wonder about this process a little more because I was just in the moment thinking only about helping my team win games and hopefully push our team toward winning a championship.

But now the season is on pause and I’m definitely wondering what’s going to happen. But in terms of clarity, there pretty much has been none. I can’t put any assumptions on it, but I can only guess that things are going to look different from a salary cap perspective next season. Team structures as well are going to be affected by it, but I have no clarity about it. I wish I had a better answer for that, but it’s just the reality of the situation.

Krug had nine goals and 49 points in 61 games this season for the Bruins and was moving toward a big payday this summer — whether it was in Boston or somewhere else.

Based on comparable deals for other elite NHL defensemen across the NHL, a long-term teal in the range of $6-8 million per season was pretty much an automatic no matter where he was going to sign. It remains to be seen how much a lowered salary cap ceiling would impact player contracts for guys like Krug, but he’s clearly going into the situation with his eyes wide open.

There’s also very little clarity on when the NHL season will resume, or even if it can resume as the league explores options like summer Stanley Cup playoff hockey and neutral site locations for playoff hockey without any fans in the stands.

Krug has consistently said he wants to remain with the Bruins and might even take less to do exactly that when it’s all said and done, but there also hadn’t been a lot of documented progress in contract talks between the player and team to this point either.

It remains to be seen how Krug’s situation will play out, or if the player will get his wish to at the very least finish out the rest of what’s become a long, strange year with the Bruins.

Top Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka draws positive review from Bruce Cassidy

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USA TODAY Sports

Top Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka draws positive review from Bruce Cassidy

The Boston Bruins don't have a robust prospect pool filled with elite talent. This is not unusual for a franchise that's been a perennial playoff contender, and one that often looks to move draft picks and/or prospects to make roster upgrades at the NHL trade deadline.

This also doesn't mean the Bruins lack exciting talent throughout the organization, though. For example, Maine goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who Boston selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, was recently named as a finalist for the Hobey Baker Trophy.

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The top prospect in Boston's system is center Jack Studnicka -- a second-round pick by the Bruins in 2017. Studnicka had played the entire 2019-20 campaign with the AHL's Providence Bruins before the outbreak of the coronavirus halted the season. He's tallied 49 points (23 goals, 26 assists) in 60 games for Providence.

Studnicka's performance has drawn positive reviews from Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy.

“How he scores goals is interesting,” Cassidy told Joe McDonald of The Athletic. “He gets inside and works to the good ice a lot, which is important in the NHL. It’s hard to be a perimeter player and have success. That was one thing I noticed about him. … He’s a very aggressive guy on the puck, and for a centerman that’s unique because usually you want your wingers in there on puck pursuit more than a centerman because he has a long way to go (to get back into the defensive zone).”

Studnicka's chance to make a real impact in the NHL could come as early as next season. He'd be an excellent addition to the bottom-six, a group that could use more speed and offensive skill.

The goal for Studnicka is becoming a top-six center, and his play in Providence this season should give Bruins fans plenty of optimism that he'll eventually reach that level.