NHL free agency

Krug still hopes to stay with Bruins: 'We named our dog Fenway. How much more Boston can it get?'

Krug still hopes to stay with Bruins: 'We named our dog Fenway. How much more Boston can it get?'

It’s status quo for Torey Krug.

That means the puck-moving Bruins defenseman hasn’t made any progress in contract talks with the team in the final year of his contract and the 27-year-old said he would still like to remain in Boston beyond this season.

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Krug knows a ton of it is out of his control at this point with the regular season on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic and the NHL's salary-cap picture very much in question based on the status of the global economy. 

Prior to the shutdown of the season, Krug was in line to sign a long-term contract with somebody this summer for something in the range of $6 million to $8 million per season based on his extensive offensive production the past few years.

Since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, only Brent Burns, John Carlson, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi and Erik Karlsson have produced more points among defensemen than the 212 posted by Krug. That is some heavy-duty NHL company and demonstrates how in-demand he could be this summer if the Bruins allow him to get to free agency on July 1.

“There hasn’t been any discussion," Krug said Tuesday in a virtual town hall with season-ticket holders. "I’m prepared for it just because of the unknown and that nobody knows what the financial implications are going to be for this league, and for each individual team for years to come. That’s still being sorted out. I didn’t really anticipate anything like that. As I’ve said all along, I want to be part of this group, part of this locker room and part of this city.

“It’s become home for us and we love it. You heard our Fenway bark earlier. We named our dog ‘Fenway.’ How much more Boston can it get? I never thought about it during the season while we were playing, but now that you have a second to think about it the mind wanders a little bit. We always assumed that we’d have some kind of [contract] answer by July 1, but who knows if we’ll have that with regard to the season and how it all plays out. I’m just trying to live in the present and enjoy what we have now, and hopefully finish out the season.”

Certainly, a regular season and playoffs spilling over into the summer could push Krug’s contract situation until the fall. Still, there will eventually be an answer to his long-term future in Boston. It remains to be seen if a flat salary cap might cost the Bruins any chance of retaining Krug. Perhaps they will simply have to hope that guys such as Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk can fill the offensive void left by a Krug departure.

As of now, though, with a season still stalled and no immediate resumption on the horizon, there are much bigger questions than Krug’s contract. 


Sweeney: Bruins still hopeful Krug's time continues in Boston

Sweeney: Bruins still hopeful Krug's time continues in Boston

Given the uncertainty about the remainder of the NHL regular season and the salary cap for next season, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney admitted there’s basically been a halt to negotiations with impending B's free agents, both restricted and unrestricted.

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The name atop that list, of course, is puck-moving defenseman Torey Krug as he heads toward a big payday regardless of where he ends up signing for next year and beyond. Krug, who turns 29 on Sunday, has averaged nine goals and 54 points over the previous three seasons and was on pace for 11 goals and 59 points when the season was paused.

Given those numbers, Krug will easily be able to command anywhere from $6 million to $8 million per season on a long-term contract on the UFA market, even if there is some kind of rollback on the salary cap for next season. Sweeney had previously been evasive this season when talking about negotiations with Krug, but made it clear the Bruins would prefer to retain their productive power-play quarterback if possible.

“I’ve been in touch with all the RFA and UFA’s agents and I think we’ve all agreed that in some of those cases it’s just better to wait,” said Sweeney, while everybody tries to get an accurate forecast on the salary cap moving forward. “I do hope that Torey hasn’t played his last game [for the Bruins] either this year or moving forward. He’s been a big part of any success that we’ve had as an organization. He’s a special player both on and off the ice.

“He means a lot in the locker room. Everybody could acknowledge his attributes on the ice and how they translate to our success as a team. In a cap world, we have to try and fit everything together. We’ve had very good discussions with Torey’s group, but we just haven’t found a landing spot and that’s understandable. Given the situation with where the cap is going to be and with his value both to us and also to his own situation, every negotiation has its own timeline. We’re hopeful that we’ll find a resolution. At this point, we haven’t been able to do so, but it’s been very amicable and we’ve made our feelings perfectly clear. We respect and acknowledge what Torey has done and what he’s capable of doing for us as a member of the Boston Bruins. We hope that continues.”

It’s nice to hear the Bruins effusively praise a player who's been their best offensive defenseman for the past five seasons, and it would be a tall task for players such as Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy to step in and replace Krug’s production were he to sign elsewhere.

Still, with so much unknown about the cap and Krug’s contract options if he pushes to unrestricted free agency, nobody really knows what’s going to happen definitively at this point.

Not even Krug or Sweeney, who both genuinely sound as if they’re hopeful a deal can be worked out to keep Krug in Boston.

Werenski contract a pretty obvious blueprint for getting McAvoy deal done

Werenski contract a pretty obvious blueprint for getting McAvoy deal done

For most of the summer, the talk has been that Bruins restricted free-agent defenseman Charlie McAvoy was looking for a long-term team with the B’s on his second contract. Certainly, it was encouraging from the perspective that McAvoy, 21, wants to remain in Boston for a long, long time and loves being a member of the Bruins.

The former Boston University standout said as much at Bruins breakup day back in the middle of June.

"I don't want to go anywhere. [Boston] is the best place on earth," said McAvoy back in June. "This is home for me now. I live here in the summer. I love it here. I want to be here forever."

But there was also a common-sense belief that a shorter bridge deal would make a lot more sense for both sides. After all,  McAvoy has missed almost 50 games with injuries and health issues in his first two NHL seasons and really hasn’t put together the kind of dominant season that precedes a monster, maximum-term contract, particularly for a player coming out of his entry-level deal.

McAvoy certainly appears on track to be a No. 1 defenseman and has averaged seven goals and 30 points his two NHL seasons. He kicked it up a notch in the run to the Stanley Cup Final when he averaged 24:30 of ice time and posted two goals and eight points in his 23 playoff games. But the Bruins admittedly would like to see McAvoy put together a healthy, strong and consistent season before they shell out the huge term and megabucks similar to the eight-year, $60 million contract Aaron Ekblad signed with the Florida Panthers.

Bruins President Cam Neely said as much in his sit-down with NBC Sports Boston this summer when asked about McAvoy.

“You look at a player that’s had some health issues two years in a row at a young age,” said Neely to NBC Sports Boston, referencing McAvoy. “You look at that and say ‘Okay, is that going to stay the same or is it just bad luck?’ We all can see what Charlie is capable of doing. You’d like to see a bigger sample size, obviously. Since the cap has come into effect we’ve all seen deals that have been signed where three years down the road you say it’s not as good as you anticipated it would be.

“Charlie has had three playoff years and two full seasons where he hasn’t been healthy. A lot of times obviously that’s not his fault, but it’s nice to have a better sample size of where a player is going to go. You see the skill set that [McAvoy] has. We want both Charlie and Brandon [Carlo] to be Bruins for their whole career, but we also have to do what’s right for the organization.”

Similarly from McAvoy’s perspective, if he were to take a two-to-three-year deal for $5 million to $6 million per season now then he’d set himself up for a massive payday a couple of years down the line provided he plays up to his major talent.

Enter the three-year, $15 million contract signed by Zach Werenski and the Columbus Blue Jackets this week that’s exactly the kind of bridge deal envisioned for McAvoy and the Bruins. Werenski, 22, has averaged 13 goals and 42 points in his first three NHL seasons, has missed just nine games in those three seasons and played in all 82 games last season while averaging 22:54 of ice time.

On paper, Werenski has done a ton more than McAvoy to this point in his career and stayed healthy while doing it for Columbus. Werenski is an obvious, direct comparable contract to McAvoy and Flyers RFA Ivan Provorov and should set up the template for both of those contracts to be in a very similar neighborhood when they are finally signed. McAvoy may want a six-to-eight-year contract and perhaps someday he’ll get it once he’s played like a franchise defenseman for an extended period.

Still, the precedent has now been set this fall and now it’s up to McAvoy to sign for fair market value without missing too much training camp. The longer he holds out for something that simply isn’t there will become a problem for the player and the team.

Don Sweeney was asked about it at the Prospects Challenge tournament in Buffalo and referenced that the Werenski deal is going to have an impact on the McAvoy talks.

“I haven’t checked my phone since you and I started talking, I think the deal just came down,” Sweeney said Tuesday afternoon in Buffalo to a group of reporters. “Every deal allows things to continue to take shape. We’ll be in touch, as we have been, with Charlie and Charlie’s group, as well as Brandon’s group.”

It’s the way of the Bruins. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak all took market value, or a little less, in order to set up Boston’s salary cap structure for years to come. Now, it’s up to McAvoy to come to terms with the way the restricted free-agent market is playing out and get a bridge deal done with both sides that could lead everybody involved to greatness in the near future.

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