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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Don Sweeney admits Bruins face 'some hard decisions' with upcoming free agents

Don Sweeney admits Bruins face 'some hard decisions' with upcoming free agents

The Bruins head into this summer’s Return to Play with plenty of question marks about how it’s all going to turn out attempting to complete the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. But there are question marks beyond that as well, with several key contracts ending once this postseason has been completed by the Black and Gold.

Torey Krug is set to become an unrestricted free agent and the offensive-minded D-man could be the most coveted defenseman on the market should he get there. Jake DeBrusk is a restricted free agent and will be looking at a big raise in his second contract after averaging 20 goals per season as a top-6 guy during his first three years in the NHL.

The two players combined will easily command over $10 million per season with their next contracts, and the Bruins will have to figure out new contracts for Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk and Anders Bjork among others. Complicating matters will be a flat salary cap for at least the next couple of years at $81.5 million with a chance it might go up a nominal amount in the third subsequent season after the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a CBA extension earlier this week.

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It will be interesting to see just how much the market corrects for a player like Krug that could have been looking at a payday in the $8 million per season range, and whether or not a player like him would take a shorter deal to remain in Boston and wait out the financial fallout headed for all of pro sports over the next couple of seasons.

Don Sweeney wouldn’t rule out negotiating deals with those potential free agents while Phase 3 and 4 roll out over the next few months, but also cautioned that the Bruins weren’t going to be “overly aggressive” given how much is still unknown about the way player contracts will be impacted moving forward.

“I’ve never stated that we’d never have conversations, so ultimately I think we’ll have [contract discussions] case-by-case. I’m not going to be overly aggressive as we get into Phase 3 getting ready to play and then into the playoffs. But if something makes sense then we’ll do it. If there are some players that are very particular and don’t want to have those conversations until we’re done [with the games] then I respect that as well,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney during a zoom call with reporters on Sunday.

“I think I’ll just touch base with each and every one of [the free agents], and that includes RFAs that want to know where they’re going to be. There will be some conversations that will take place in terms of how we’re going to position contracts and how we’re going to structure contracts, and how you fit it together. Ultimately, we’re all going to have the $81.5 million for the next two years. We’re going to start to have conversations.  

“We’ve had to run simulations and still [get to a place] where we’re treating every player fairly from a compensation standpoint. But we have some decisions to make and we may have to make some hard decisions just like every other team in the league now that we have the parameters of the cap and how the mechanisms of the new CBA are going to work.”

Those “hard decisions” could mean they have to decide between Krug and DeBrusk when finding a way to get under the cap for next season, though it should be noted that the Bruins have a lot of cap space opening up two seasons from now when the current deals for both Tuukka Rask and David Krejci (almost $15 million in cap space) will be off the books.

Bruins expect to be missing a few players at start of camp due to quarantine rules

Bruins expect to be missing a few players at start of camp due to quarantine rules

Don’t be surprised if a couple of players are missing from the ice when Bruins training camp gets going at the outset of Phase 3 of Return to Play on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.

The Bruins submitted a roster of 29 players and four goaltenders that will be a part of training camp for the next few weeks before leaving for the Toronto hub city on July 26. The list did not include Bruins reserve D-man Steve Kampfer, who has opted out due to health concerns for his wife and young son amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but it sounds like everybody on the active training camp roster is intent on playing for the next few months.

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Still, at least one or two European players may not be on the ice for the first day of practice while observing the self-quarantine rules following international travel to get to Boston over the last couple of weeks. Several European players like Zdeno Chara, Par Lindholm, Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask were already taking part in Phase 2 practices over the last month, and it's unknown exactly which players might not be cleared to go right out of the opening starting gate. 

“They have a final decision to make by Monday at 5 p.m. At this point in time we haven’t heard from anybody else [aside from Steve Kampfer],” said Don Sweeney. “We may have one or two players that are still facing international quarantine rules per the recommendation of our staff, but within a day or so we should be fully up and going.”

David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase, Joakim Nordstrom, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril and Daniel Vladar were the players expected to be traveling back from Europe, so any camp absences at the start would be expected to be among that group.