Bruins

Torey Krug decision at the crossroads of Bruins changing or staying pat

Torey Krug decision at the crossroads of Bruins changing or staying pat

Torey Krug was in the middle of plenty of trade rumors with the Bruins last summer, so it didn’t sound like the puck-moving D-man was shocked last week when his future in Boston was once again the topic of discussion at the start of this offseason.

Krug is coming off a strong regular season and a stellar postseason where he would have been in the conversation for Conn Smythe had the Bruins pulled out Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues. He tied with Alex Pietrangelo for the playoff lead with 16 assists through the entire postseason, and he did something that even Bobby Orr never did with a four-point game during the Stanley Cup Final. More importantly, Krug stayed healthy during the playoff run for the first time in the last three postseasons.

Krug was second on the B’s in ice time playing 22:20 per game, and held his own against much bigger opponents on oversized rosters in Columbus and St. Louis during the four rounds of the postseason. To say he answered plenty of questions this postseason would be an understatement, and underneath it all Krug played with the kind of cojones that scream out leadership and accountability.

All it takes is one shoving match between 5-foot-8 Krug and 6-foot-6 Colton Parayko during the Cup Final to know that he’s the kind of player who isn’t going to back down. He got drilled by Jake Muzzin with a missile body check in the first round that clearly stunned him for a few games afterward, but he never missed any time and ended up putting together a hell of a postseason.

So there’s little doubting that Krug’s value is at an all-time high right now coming off his 18 playoff points and plus-4 in 24 playoff games, and that is part of the problem when it comes to considering his future. Krug is entering the final season of a contract that will pay him $5.25 million and currently has him as the highest paid D-man on the B’s roster. That will likely be short-lived until Charlie McAvoy signs his next contract with the Black and Gold, but it’s still worth noting that the 28-year-old Krug carries the biggest salary cap hit.

It’s expected that Krug is going to get a substantial pay bump on his next deal entering unrestricted free agency next summer at 29 years old, and that’s where the trade scenarios begin coming into play. It’s difficult to envision the Bruins being able to afford Krug after paying out RFA money to both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo this offseason.

It’s also reaching a point where McAvoy is ready to take that next step as a PP quarterback for the top power-play unit, and step into more of the offense that Krug has been providing for the B’s over the last few seasons. If Krug were to be traded it would be largely because youngsters like McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk are ready to take on more responsibility and perhaps fill the void left by such a player who’s topped 50 points in each of the last three regular seasons.

So the next logical step would be to move Krug in a deal for a substantial player coming back in return with the offensive D-man coming off a big season, and still sporting a reasonable cap hit for at least the coming season. If the Bruins could land the top-6 power forward-type with some goal-scoring ability that they sorely lack up front by moving Krug elsewhere, that is something that Bruins general manager Don Sweeney would need to consider.

That’s probably why the Bruins GM didn’t outright reject the notion of dealing Krug while addressing the media on Monday morning, and instead indicated he’d need to be blown away to even consider it. Cut through all the words and that means Sweeney is considering it this summer given the roster and cap needs for his hockey club moving forward.

“Torey is an important part of our hockey club. I was proud of his efforts. He took to heart being in a top-4 role this year, particularly in the playoffs where he was going to face some tough matchups on the road. He handled it really well,” said Sweeney. “The power play and the points really speak for themselves, and have for his entire time here. He’s a big part of our club.

“We have an opportunity on July 1 to open up talks, and some of it will be dictated by the RFA market and some internal things will dictate the timing of those conversations. If somebody blew us away [with a trade offer] then every player has to be looked at in that way. From an organizational standpoint, it would be a disservice if you don’t. It would take a pretty unique opportunity for us to part with Torey. We believe that he’s in the fabric of our group and he’s kind of that next wave of leadership behind the guys that have carried the mantle for a long time. He’s an important part of our club.”

What does Krug want?

The undrafted defenseman obviously wants to remain with the only NHL home that he’s known in Boston, and wants to be a part of the leadership group still pushing for that elusive next Stanley Cup.

“It’s been my goal since Day One to be a part of this locker room and a part of this core group,” said Krug, of remaining with the Bruins. “I’ve been lucky enough to stay for a while and I want to be here forever. It’s a great group of guys and I feel privileged to be a part of this group. You want to bring something to the table yourself and hopefully I’ve done that.”

He’s certainly earned that consideration as one of the most prolific defensemen in the NHL over the last five years with guys like Erik Karlsson, John Klingberg and Brent Burns as his peers from an offensive production standpoint.

But the NHL is also a business — and even the B’s general manager didn’t rule out the possibility of trading Krug if the right deal comes along for his team. It feels more likely that Krug will return to a Bruins team that could use him as they try to get back to the Stanley Cup Final again next season, but the trade rumors will be as real as they’ve ever been for the 28-year-old during his six full seasons in Boston. 

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Patrice Bergeron set to return to Bruins lineup after missing seven games

Patrice Bergeron set to return to Bruins lineup after missing seven games

With the Bruins appearing a little out of focus in the last few games, they will get one of their important leaders back for Monday night’s road game with Patrice Bergeron returning against the Ottawa Senators.

Bergeron has missed the previous seven games while working back from a lower body injury that’s forced him to miss nine of the Bruins' last 11 games, and over the last week, he slowly ramped up to his return to his rightful place this morning centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Bergeron has eight goals and 24 points in 21 games this season while centering two of the top scorers in the league, and is obviously still one of the top two-way centers in the NHL at 34 years old. But amazingly the Bruins went an impressive 6-1-2 in the nine games that Bergeron has missed with injuries as of late, and they pulled off a number of third-period comebacks without their No. 1 center.

That being said, the Bruins have forced Bruce Cassidy to mix and match the lines as of late as Pastrnak’s offensive binge has slowed down and the offense has scored just 13 goals in the last six games while missing a key part of their top line and top power play unit.

Bergeron should help all of these things upon his return while allowing David Krejci and Charlie Coyle to slot into their normal spots in the lineup. But it will be interesting to watch how fully Bergeron has healed up his lower body injury, and whether or not it’s something that might continue to dog him like the chronic groin issues he’s battled over the last few years.

With Bergeron set to make his return, here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Ottawa Senators based on Monday’s morning skate:

PROJECTED LINES

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci Danton Heinen
Anders Bjork Charlie Coyle Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
John Moore Matt Grzelcyk

STARTING GOALIE

Tuukka Rask

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Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

Extra defenseman Steven Kampfer placed on waivers by the Bruins

With the return of John Moore to good health and a general lack of tight focus to the team recently, the confluence of events pushed the Bruins to make a move ahead of a four-game road trip next week.

The Bruins announced that they have waived veteran defenseman Steve Kampfer at noontime on Sunday for the purpose of sending him down to the AHL. It was clear the B’s were going to opt for the 31-year-old Kampfer rather than Connor Clifton, who just a couple of weeks ago passed the 60 NHL games played barrier that would also require waivers for him to be sent down to the AHL.

There’s a far greater chance that a team would put a claim in on the 24-year-old Clifton, who has two goals and a plus-5 rating in 24 games for the Black and Gold this season.

The final straw for Kampfer was the healthy return of Moore, who missed the first 28 games of the season coming back from shoulder surgery. But Moore has played in back-to-back games for the Bruins and collected an assist in Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Avalanche while showing that he’s all the way back from an injury suffered during last spring’s playoff run.

Kampfer has played in just four games for the Bruins this season as their seventh defenseman after putting up three goals and six points in 35 games as their spare D-man last season. While there’s a chance that a team could put a claim in on Kampfer, the likelihood given his age and experience level is that he’ll head to Providence to stay sharp for when another round of injuries inevitably hit the Bruins on the back end.

There’s also no question that a player being put on waivers that’s been with the Bruins for the last couple of seasons might be enough to also shake the complacency out of a B’s group that’s been sleepwalking against opponents over the last couple of weeks. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, of course, but they have needed a handful of third period comebacks after making slow starts the norm as of late.

There’s also the chance that the Bruins need the cap savings associated with Kampfer’s $800,000 cap hit after Moore’s $2.75 million cap figure was added back onto Boston’s books once he got healthy earlier this week.

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