The Boston Bruins will be among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup if the 2019-20 season resumes, and one reason for their success throughout the campaign has been the performance of Torey Krug.
The 29-year-old veteran ranks among the best offensive defensemen in the NHL, and he leads all B's blueliners with 49 points (nine goals, 40 assists) in 61 games. He's tallied three consecutive seasons of 50-plus points, and his 0.80 points per game scoring rate this season is the second-highest of his career.
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It's safe to say Krug is an integral part of the Bruins' offense. The real question is whether Krug will be calling Boston home next season. He is, of course, eligible to become an unrestricted free agent whenever the league's free agency period begins. Krug would be one of the most talented players available if he were to hit the free agent market, and we've often seen teams overpay to sign defensemen with impressive offensive abilities.
One Bruins legend who understands the value of top-tier defensemen is Ray Bourque, and in a recent Q&A with Fluto Shinzawa and Joe McDonald of The Athletic, the Hall of Famer gave his take on Krug's future in Boston.
"I certainly know he would love that and the Bruins would love that, too, but the business side of it might make it hard for that to happen, because of the success and how Torey has really flourished into a top-notch defenseman on both sides of the ice," Bourque said. "He’s a special player. He’s such a competitor. He’s a great kid. He’s a great Bruin. He wants to be a Bruin. You watch that team play and you can see the joy and the fun that they have playing together and the chemistry that team has. You’ve got to look at the top and with that leadership group that they have is a special one with Patrice (Bergeron), (Zdeno Chara), (David) Krejci and that core that they’ve had with Tuukka (Rask), (Brad) Marchand and all those guys. And Torey’s a big part of that now too. I’d love to see him sign here.
"We’ve got to know Torey very well. He broke in playing in Providence with Chris (Bourque) and they were working the point on the power play together. We got to spend a lot of time with Torey after games, going to dinner with him and his wife, and Chris and his wife. Chris and Torey are really close and we got to spend some time over the holidays with the Krugs, so it’s been a lot of fun and joy watching him play and grow as a player and a person. I just hope he gets to live out his career here in Boston. It’ll be great for everybody and I know he knows that, but he knows the business side of it as well and that always makes it tough."
It's difficult to predict what kind of contract would keep Krug in Boston. Krug has every right to earn what he's worth, and there's no doubt he deserves a nice raise above the $5.25 million average annual salary in his current deal. It's also hard to figure out what the 2020-21 salary cap will look like given the revenue losses stemming from the season being on pause.
In any event, the Bruins would be wise to make a strong effort to re-sign Krug. Not only is he a tremendous player, he's also one of the team's best leaders on and off the ice.