Bruins

Torey Krug looking for 'clarity' on his contract as Bruins training camp begins

Torey Krug looking for 'clarity' on his contract as Bruins training camp begins

BRIGHTON, Mass – With training camp officially underway for the Boston Bruins, Torey Krug enters the final season of his contract looking for a few answers.

And nobody could blame him.

Krug is coming off six goals and 53 points in 64 games during the regular season and another 18 points in 24 postseason games during the Stanley Cup playoff run. If the Black and Gold had captured the Cup, Krug certainly would have been among the names discussed for Conn Smythe, and the small-bodied defenseman certainly proved something to everybody by staying healthy throughout the rough-and-tumble playoff run.

So with all that in the recent past, Krug heard nothing from the Bruins about his deal as he enters the final year of his contract ahead of unrestricted free agency. Certainly some of it is about the Bruins still having unfinished business with unsigned RFAs Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, and the club needing cost certainty there before they could possibly proceed with the 28-year-old Krug.

But it’s also curious there hasn’t been a single conversation with Krug about his deal when they made certain to take care of Bruce Cassidy with a three-year extension as he was about to enter the final year of his contract.

Krug admitted that he’s curious about where it’s all going to lead and rightfully so.

“It’s something I’m comfortable with. I’ve played on one-year deals before and always had to prove myself,” said Krug. “But I’d love to get some clarity on my future for myself and my family, and know where I’m going to play. It’s something that I eventually hope will be discussed.”

A big part of the issue with Krug is that he’s primed to hit a massive payday on his next contract after being one of the most offensively productive D-men in the NHL over the last three seasons. It also remains to be seen if young D-men like Matt Grzelcyk, McAvoy and others can actually replace Krug’s point production or his ability to quarterback a power play.

He’s also approaching 30 years old as a 5-foot-8 D-man that’s managed to survive in the NHL during a career where he’s proved all doubters wrong.

It may give the Bruins some pause on a long term deal when Krug could easily command $7-8 million per season on a six-plus year deal as a free agent next summer. He’s already mentioned a willingness to take something of a hometown discount to stay with the B’s, but it remains to be seen how much of a discount that will translate to in real dollars. Certainly it’s encouraging that Krug is buying in on the Bruins as Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak did when they signed for less than they could have on their last contracts.

But it’s all speculation until the Bruins and Krug actually hold a discussion, and Don Sweeney and Co. begin showing interest in keeping the offensive D-man in the Black and Gold fold beyond next season.

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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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Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

Bruce Cassidy: 'We've just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities'

BOSTON – It was only a matter of time before the Bruins got burned for playing like they could flick on a third period switch and beat everybody across the NHL.

After a number of third period comebacks and salvaged points over the last couple of weeks, the Bruins couldn’t pull the same trick against the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 loss at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was the first regulation loss on home ice for the Bruins this season at TD Garden and it was exactly what Boston deserved after managing just nine shots on net in the first two periods while making some simple mistakes that led to goals against at inopportune times.

“For us, [it was a] lack of urgency. We talked about it the other night, again tonight, some of that is definitely in our game early on. If we’re on our toes, I think we’re cleaner. I’m not going to say that we’re not going to execute from time to time, but it’s been an issue for us I think. Some of the unforced errors — I just look at the play, Grizz [Matt Grzelcyk] takes a hit, [Danton] Heinen goes back with the puck. If we’re playing the right way, we’re in and out of our end. We’re gone,” said Bruce Cassidy. “We go back with it and all of a sudden [it’s in the net]. We win a faceoff to start a period and we ice it instead of making a play. Now we’re in our end and there’s just a lot of details that are working us against us now. We’ve just got to wake up and start playing to our abilities in those situations, and live with the result.

“[It] doesn’t mean we’re going to win, but I think we’re leaving plays on the table because our lack of urgency or understanding that teams are coming after us. They’re good teams. We got away with it for a while here, good for us, right? It’s a results-oriented business. But against the better teams, I think at some point, they will close out games. [The loss to the Avs] was a great example of that.”

The Heinen play really was the killer as it came midway through the second period, led to the Bruins running around in their own end and then ended with Ian Cole rocketing a slap shot past Jaroslav Halak from the top of the face-off circle. Then Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk botched defensive coverage in transition at the end of the second period, and that led to Andre Burakovsky scoring the insurance goal right at the end of the period.

At that point, it was over despite Boston outshooting Colorado by a 12-6 margin in the third period, and the Bruins have to hope that it was a lesson learned at this point. It may take a few games for the Bruins to snap out of some of their current bad habits, but there’s also that overall malaise that might be an unavoidable part of the team’s commanding 13-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

That being said, Brad Marchand spoke for all of Boston’s team leadership in knowing that the current state of being for the Black and Gold isn’t something that can sustainably bring success.

“It’s a losing game. You can’t continue to go down by a couple of goals, especially to good teams,” said Marchand. “Teams like that know how to win and how to keep a lead. No matter how many times you come back, it’s going to eventually catch up to you. We’ve had that, especially early on [in games]. We tend to be much better when we’re behind. I think then it’s a bit of a wakeup call and we all have to play good in order to come back.

“But we have to play that way from the first shift of the first period. If you want to win, if you want to be a good team and if you want to have a chance in the playoffs, you have to be able to do that all game along. It’s tough sometimes because the season can get long. That’s no excuse. We have to realize the mistakes that we’re making and improve if want to continue to get better. That’s what good teams do.”

It would behoove the Bruins to get things in order quickly with a slate of important games over the next week including a mid-week tilt with the Washington Capitals, and a pair of divisional games against Tampa Bay and Florida later on in the week. But there really isn’t any worry coming from the B’s about anybody distantly trailing them in the standings right now while 8-1-1 in their last 10 games overall.

Instead it’s about the Bruins themselves becoming the best hockey team that they can be and getting back into a groove where they are paying attention to details and doing the little things that lead to winning hockey.  

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