Bruins

Bruins

BRIGHTON, Mass – There’s been plenty of chatter about Torey Krug’s contract situation since the Bruins went out and executed trade deadline moves that saved the B’s about $3 million in salary cap space for next season.

The deals were made to improve this year’s team and the Bruins definitely did that by bringing in wingers Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase ahead of the Feb. 24 deadline. But there was also most definitely an eye toward the 28-year-old Krug entering unrestricted free agency this summer and 23-year-old winger Jake DeBrusk graduating to his second contract this offseason as well.

DeBrusk could be looking at a raise to a contract in the $4-5 million per season range based on his numbers, and Krug could command close to double that as a UFA this summer.

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It’s not something that Krug is dwelling on while not letting it negatively impact him this season, and it’s done nothing to take away the competitive, feisty style he always plays with on the ice.

“I’ve kind of pushed it to the side ever since training camp started,” said Krug, when asked about his contract status with the Bruins. “I’ve just tried to help this team win hockey games in the present and be part of the answer, the solution here. I haven’t thought about it any differently since, so why start now?”

Krug has eight goals and 45 points in 58 games this season for the Bruins and is pacing for a strong free agent walk year. It won’t be the career year he had in 2017-18 when he put up 14 goals and 59 points in 76 games for the Black and Gold, but he’s on track to hit double-digit goals and top 50 points while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game.

 

Put it all together and Krug is just adding to what he could make on the open market if he takes things to free agency this summer. There are plenty of NHL teams that could use a puck-moving offensive producer like Krug on the back end, and his status as a competent top-4 defenseman with leadership qualities makes him even more attractive. Many potential suitors would look at Krug as the kind of player that could help turn around a struggling power play merely by his playmaking presence at the top end of the special teams’ unit.

Krug will end up averaging 10 goals and 50 points over the last three seasons provided he stays healthy until the end of the year. Only names like John Carlson, Brent Burns, Victor Hedman and Keith Yandle have been able to put up elite stats like that from the back end over the last three years.

He’s not going to command the eight-year, $72 million extension that Roman Josi signed with the Nashville Predators, but he’s also earned himself more than the seven-year, $45.5 million deal Justin Faulk signed with the St. Louis Blues.

Faulk has consistently played a few more minutes of ice time per game than Krug, but averaged 13 goals and 38 points over the previous five seasons prior to signing his long term deal. Faulk has never finished with 50 points in a single season in his career, and Krug will likely have done it in each of the last three seasons for the Black and Gold.

Jared Spurgeon might be the middle ground at seven years, $53 million ($7.575 per season) that Krug could fairly ask from the Bruins based on comparable contracts, but that would also make him the highest paid player on the Bruins roster. The guess here is that the Bruins would like Krug to come in closer to the $6.75-7 million range per season on a deal, and in doing so take the same hometown discount that key B’s guys like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have already accepted in recent seasons.  

Don Sweeney said last week that there has been “communication” between the Bruins and Krug’s representation, but didn’t go any further than that when asked about it after the NHL trade deadline.

“I don’t have an update in terms of a timeline. We’ve continued to stay in communication with Torey, whether we find [a deal on a contract] at an appropriate time between now and the end of the year, I don’t know yet,” said Sweeney. “We’ll have talks, they’ve been very cordial, both sides sort of understand where they are and whether or not we can bridge something along those lines is to be determined.”

 

It’s encouraging that Charlie McAvoy has come out of his offensive funk with four goals and 13 points in 14 games during the month of February and Matt Grzelcyk is going to set career highs with his final offensive numbers this season. But nobody on the Bruins roster will be able to replace Krug’s offensive production if he were to bolt to the highest bidder. There’s really nobody else to replace the D-man’s leadership position either as a key 28-year-old buffer between the younger players and the order core group.

Zdeno Chara has been asked multiple times about his future with the Bruins this season, and has notably said “there are others that need to be taken care of” before he’ll sign on again with the Black and Gold. The assumption is that the 42-year-old Bruins captain is referencing the contract status of Krug, and absolutely understands the diminutive D-man’s importance to sustained Boston success into the future.

It makes so much sense for both the Bruins and Krug to eventually talk seriously about a contract and find middle ground on a fair deal for both sides. But it hasn’t happened yet and the clock is ticking toward a July 1 date where Krug is as good as gone to an extravagant free agent contract -- if he’s allowed to get to that point.