Torey Krug

Ranking the NHL's Top 100 players for 2020: Nos. 100-76

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Ranking the NHL's Top 100 players for 2020: Nos. 100-76

With the NHL getting ready to go back to work with training camps across the league set to start on July 10, what better time to discuss the Top 100 players in the NHL right now?

Certainly, we took the shortened regular season into account along with the player’s body of work prior to this year, and with a little projection as to how much room they have to grow in the future. Put it all together and you’ve got a mix of two-way centers, high-scoring wings, hard-hitting defensemen and red-hot goaltenders who combine to get the best 100 players in the league.

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Here’s the first 25 of those players as we count down from 100 all the way to 1 with apologies to familiar players like Phil Kessel, P.K. Subban and Henrik Lundqvist who fell out of the Top 100 with tough seasons this past year.

100. Evander Kane, LW, San Jose Sharks

After highs and lows during his time in both Winnipeg/Atlanta and Buffalo at the beginning of his career, the 28-year-old left winger has found a home with the San Jose Sharks over the last three seasons. Kane scored 30 goals in his first full season in San Jose last year, was on his way to score 30 goals again this season and he’s led the NHL in penalty minutes in each of the last two seasons as one of the most physical power forwards in the league.

If he were a more consistent player and more interested when it comes to defense, he’d probably be even higher on this list. He’s also never scored more than the 57 points he reached in his third NHL season at 20 years old, so it feels like there’s greater potential for his game that’s never quite been tapped into as of yet. The fact that the Sharks are truly bad right now doesn’t exactly help the glitz factor when it comes to Kane’s overall ranking, but he’s one of the best players on a San Jose hockey club that’s quickly getting old and slow.  

99. Elias Lindholm, C, Calgary Flames

The Swedish center has really broken through in the last couple of seasons for the Calgary Flames after getting moved by Carolina. He put up career highs with 27 goals, 51 assists and 78 points with the Flames and was on track to put up similar numbers with 29 goals and 54 points when the regular season went on pause this year. Lindholm even earned Selke Trophy and Lady Byng votes last year and might this season as well, though he’s a minus-8 this year as opposed to being a plus-30 last year.

Considering he’s been a minus player in every season aside from last year in Calgary, that’s something Lindholm needs to keep a close watch on as he matures at the NHL level. At 25 years old, Lindholm is just hitting the top potential of his NHL career and should be a really strong player for the Flames for a long time to come.

98. Hampus Lindholm, D, Anaheim Ducks

The 26-year-old Anaheim defenseman has garnered some All-Star and Norris Trophy votes in his career and certainly hasn’t been helped by the struggles of the Ducks over the last few seasons. But he’s still a 6-foot-3, 211-pound defenseman who's scored double-digit goals a couple of times and has averaged over 22 minutes of ice time in his career.

While Anaheim has moved on from other defensemen like Shea Theodore and seen inconsistency from Cam Fowler, the sense is that Lindholm could still develop even further into a premium No. 1 defenseman at a position where late bloomers sometimes take until their late twenties to truly find their stride. Lindholm has all the potential in the world.

97. Chris Kreider, LW, New York Rangers

The player that everybody was fantasizing about heading into this year’s trade deadline ended up sticking around with a Rangers team that values what they have in the Massachusetts kid. Kreider has scored 20 goals in five of the last six seasons and was at 24 goals and 45 points this season when things went on pause. The 29-year-old has never hit 30 goals in his career, but he’s a left winger who brings 6-foot-3, 211-pound size and blazing skating speed while being willing to mix it up physically as well.

Kreider has never been a guy who garners much discussion when it comes to postseason awards and his numbers are strong, but not spectacular. But he’s also a player who's a major factor for the Blueshirts and that’s backed up by the $45 million contract extension he signed with New York around the trade deadline a few months ago.

96. David Perron, LW, St. Louis Blues

The 31-year-old Perron’s third go-round with the Blues has been fantastic with the hard-to-play-against winger putting together some of his best NHL seasons and really stepping up this year with Vladimir Tarasenko injured and out of the lineup. The 31-year-old has 25 goals and 60 points in 71 games this season, arguably the best in his NHL career, and is coming off a strong postseason where he put up 16 points in 26 games on the way to the Blues winning the Stanley Cup.

Perron has never won any NHL awards, but he’s starting to post some solid career numbers with 223 goals and 550 career points in 850 games over a 13-year career.

95. Jakub Voracek, RW, Philadelphia Flyers

This season hasn’t been Voracek’s best by a longshot, but the 30-year-old still had 56 points in 69 career games along with a plus-14 rating for a Flyers team destined for the playoffs. Voracek has become a steady veteran influence for a young Flyers group where the 6-foot-2, 214-pound winger stands out with his playmaking, size, strength and savvy with the puck.

He wasn’t going to score 20 goals this season (Voracek had just 12 with a month left to go in the season) for just the second time in the last eight years with the Flyers, but Voracek has 695 career points in 915 career NHL games with the vast majority of them coming with Philadelphia.

94. Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks

The 20-year-old Hughes obviously has his entire career in front of him, but he was a revelation with the Canucks this year as a smooth-skating, smart playmaker on the back end. Hughes will garner plenty of Calder Trophy votes this year after posting eight goals and 53 points in 68 games.

Many would not have guessed that Hughes would have enjoyed more of an impactful season than younger brother Jack Hughes after he was the No. 1 overall pick for the New Jersey Devils, but that’s exactly what happened with the kid in Vancouver. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Hughes still has some work to do on the defensive end as attested by the minus-10 rating this year, but he’s got the goods offensively.

93. Elvis Merzlikins, G, Columbus Blue Jackets

One of the biggest revelations of the season was the performance of 26-year-old rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who stepped up this year after they lost Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency last summer. Merzlikins has an impressive five shutouts in 33 games this year and posted a 13-9-8 record for a Blue Jackets team that wriggled their way into the playoffs and finished with an impressive 2.35 goals against average and .923 save percentage.

One of the reasons that Columbus might be a problem in the qualifying round of the playoffs is because of the way that Merzlikins has played this year for the Blue Jackets. Will the magic still be there when the NHL resumes play?

92. Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston Bruins

Clearly it hasn’t been the breakout season that many predicted for the 21-year-old when they had him as a preseason candidate for the Norris Trophy, but McAvoy did manage to get his game on track by the time the regular season was put on pause. McAvoy was on pace to set career highs in goals and points and had already posted a career-best with 27 assists while leading the Bruins with 23:10 of ice time per game.

It’s actually a pretty amazing turnaround considering he didn’t score his first goal of the year until Feb. 5 and had just three points in his first 14 games this season. McAvoy is still on track to be the franchise No. 1 defenseman for the Bruins for a long time, and the other areas of his game are improving as he learned to pick his spots offensively. Even more important, he stayed healthy this season. That’s a big one for him.

91. Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis Blues

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Parayko is another top NHL defenseman who isn’t a slick puck-mover, but instead plays a shutdown role while chipping in some pretty decent offensive numbers. The 27-year-old Parayko had 10 goals and 28 points in 64 games this season and was on his way to posting career-best numbers this season prior to the regular season going on pause.

Interesting that Parayko has earned votes for the Lady Byng Trophy rather than the Norris Trophy during his NHL career, and somehow he’s been able to keep his PIM totals under 20 minutes each season despite playing a big, rugged game. Maybe he could be playing with even more of a mean streak than he does right now?

90. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

After a strong season where Barkov won the Lady Byng Trophy last year, he was merely okay this year for the Panthers while posting 20 goals and 62 points all while barely being a plus player. It means Barkov won’t have a top-5 finish in Selke voting this season. It also shows that perhaps the “Barkov is the new Patrice Bergeron” talk was a little premature and that he’s still got some growing to do in his game at 24 years old.

Certainly, this year was a half-step for a player with a ton of ability and potential. It will be interesting to see what he can do in the qualifying round after only once getting a crack at the Stanley Cup Playoffs all the way back in the 2015-16 season.

89. J.T. Miller, C, Vancouver Canucks

After excelling in a secondary role for both the Rangers and the Lightning earlier in his NHL career, Miller really embraced a bigger role with a young Canucks group this year. He shattered his career highs with 27 goals and 72 points in 69 games and was one of their most consistent players while other heralded players like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser get much of the hype.

At just 26 years old, Miller still has plenty of good years ahead of him and will be an experienced, gritty leader for a young Canucks team that will be getting their first taste of the postseason when the hockey season resumes.

88. Zdeno Chara, D, Boston Bruins

At 43 years old, Zdeno Chara is no longer a Norris Trophy candidate and he hasn’t been a mainstay on the power play for some time either with his 108.8 mph slap shot. But Chara is still the premier shutdown defenseman of his generation, the NHL’s most effective penalty killer and an experienced leader who works to bring together all corners of his dressing room.

The plus-26 mark this season along with the five goals and 14 points while still playing 21:01 of ice time per game is amazing for a player his age. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer once he retires and he continues writing chapters in his legacy with the Bruins.

87. Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens

The 32-year-old Price isn’t having a great season in Montreal and is no longer the best goaltender in the world. But he’s still a formidable goalie capable of greatness, which explains why a team like the Penguins will proceed carefully against him and an undermanned Habs group in the qualifying round of the postseason.

The 2.79 goals against average and .909 save percentage are much less than the high-water marks for Price and he’s no longer the guy who won both the Hart Trophy and the Vezina Trophy back in 2014-15. Injuries have taken their toll on Price and the guy he used to be, but he’s still capable of pockets of brilliance up in Montreal.

86. Brayden Schenn, C, St. Louis Blues

Another somewhat unheralded member of the St. Louis Blues, Schenn is a hard-hitting, versatile tone-setter for a St. Louis team that plays a physical, heavy brand of hockey. The 25 goals and 58 points in 71 games also speak to his overall effectiveness as a hard-working center who holds things together for the Blues.

It’s too bad the regular season was put on pause because Schenn would have had a chance to eclipse his career highs of 28 goals and 70 points that he posted a couple of years ago, but everybody will see how valuable he is now that the postseason is nearly here.

85. John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks

The 26-year-old Anaheim netminder got a bit worn out as the year went along, so the 3.00 goals against average and .904 save percentage weren’t all that impressive when the season went on pause. But the career marks of a .918 save percentage and 2.53 goals against average tell a different story, and Gibson certainly deserves credit for being a stalwart goalie for a number of Ducks teams that haven’t been all that good in recent seasons.

He’s only a few seasons removed from winning the Jennings Trophy and he’s got a long career still in front of him while he waits for the Ducks to improve the team around him.

84. Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames

Giordano took a step back for the Flames this season after winning the Norris Trophy last year with 17 goals, 74 points and a plus-39 rating. It looks like things are starting to fall back after hitting that pinnacle and Giordano was at five goals and 31 points in 60 games this season with just a plus-2 rating. Some of that was about a Flames team that played through a lot of difficulties this year.

He’s still playing big minutes at 23:53 of ice time this season, but his run of All-Star and Norris Trophy consideration is going to come to an end this year. One wonders if, at 36 years old, things are beginning to wind down for one of the great players to ever come into the NHL as an undrafted prospect.

83. Mark Stone, RW, Vegas Golden Knights

The 28-year-old Stone continues to be a strong, two-way forward who plays hard at both ends of the ice and sets a hard-working tone for the Golden Knights. Stone had 21 goals and 63 points in 65 games this season when things went on pause and was a plus-15 while finishing as a Selke Trophy finalist in each of the last three seasons.

At this point he’s only reached 30 goals and 70 points once in his career and has settled into something of the neighborhood of 20 goals and 60 points with excellent all-around play. He’s not a dominant force in the NHL, but he’s a very, very good player who's part of the season the Golden Knights are continually in the mix each and every season.

82. Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota Wild

At 35 years old, Suter is no longer the guy who's averaging 29 minutes of ice time per game while shouldering a heavy, heavy load for the Minnesota Wild after signing a big free agent deal with them. But Suter is still a player who garners Hart Trophy and Norris Trophy consideration every year and had eight goals and 48 points in 69 games this season when things went on pause.

He’s finished top-5 in the Norris three times in his NHL career and led the league with a plus-34 mark just three seasons ago, but Suter has been saddled with some middling Minny hockey teams in recent seasons. Even with all of that, Suter has been steady as a rock.

81. Torey Krug, D, Boston Bruins

Say what you want about Krug’s small size at 5-foot-8 or that he’s something of a specialty defenseman who does a lot of damage on the power play, but he’s worked his entire career to defy those critiques. Krug has turned himself into a top-4 defenseman capable of playing more than 20 minutes of ice time per game, and he’s scored more points on the back end than all but a handful of elite D-men over the last three seasons.

The 29-year-old Krug had nine goals and 49 points when the season went on pause, and was about to collect another double-digit goal, 50-point season as a D-man for the Black and Gold. He also stayed healthy last postseason and wound up as one of Boston’s best players throughout the playoffs, as he continues to improve as a player with unrestricted free agency right in front of him.

80. Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers

The 23-year-old Flyers defenseman has quickly turned himself into one of the best young blueliners in the league and had 13 goals and 36 points in 69 games when the regular season went on pause. Provorov was a plus-11 this season while adding a strong defensive showing for a Flyers team that plays a bit of run and gun and was averaging a stalwart 24:51 of ice time this year.

Provorov hasn’t garnered much NHL award consideration to this point in his career, but the upward trajectory of his game and his talent level say he’s going on to bigger and better things in the near future. Provorov is a big part of the Flyers' success story that has them as one of the top seeds headed into this year’s playoffs.

79. Sean Monahan, C, Calgary Flames

Like many of the Flames players, the 25-year-old Monahan has taken a bit of a step back this season after posting 34 goals and 82 points for Calgary a season ago. Instead he had 22 goals and 40 points in 70 games along with a minus-16 mark that was his worst since his rookie season in Cowtown.

Clearly the talent is still there and it seems like it’s just an “off” season for everybody in Calgary, but Monahan will need to bounce back from the subpar performance he’d been putting up this year after proving he was better than that. Back-to-back 30 goal seasons indicate he’s capable of much more at both ends of the ice.

78. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton Oilers

The 27-year-old Nugent-Hopkins has settled into a pretty good niche with the Oilers after never quite living up to being the No. 1 overall pick in Edmonton. They’re kind of used to that there. RNH had 22 goals and 61 points in 65 games this season  and had career highs of 28 goals and 69 points last season for the Oilers while playing more wing than center.

It certainly seems like he’s a player who has settled into a role for Edmonton where he’s valued and productive, and that’s a good thing for both him and for his hockey club. In addition, Nugent-Hopkins was a plus-1 this year while both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were minus players, so clearly he’s doing a bit of a better job of playing at both ends.

77. Aaron Ekblad, D, Florida Panthers

The 23-year-old Ekblad appeared on the road to superstardom when he won the Calder Trophy as an 18-year-old defenseman for the Panthers with the size, strength and athletic gifts needed to be a franchise No. 1 D-man. And he’s been a pretty strong player at both ends while registering double-digit goals each season, averaging over 22 minutes of ice time per game and staying fairly healthy at a position where the physical toll is heavy.

But he also seemed to take a half-step back this year with five goals and 41 points in 67 games for a Panthers team that’s been languishing outside of the playoffs for years. Perhaps it’s a necessary transformation into a winning type of D-man under head coach Joel Quenneville, but it doesn’t feel like it was Ekblad’s best this season either.

76. Ryan O’Reilly, C, St. Louis Blues

O’Reilly jumped up in the rankings with his playoff performance last year when he captured the Conn Smythe after St. Louis won the Cup. O’Reilly outplayed Patrice Bergeron in the Stanley Cup Final and he fittingly won the Selke Trophy last season.

He wasn’t as offensively dominant this year with 12 goals and 61 points in 71 games along with a plus-11 rating, but he’s still playing his steady, smart two-way game all over the rink. The eight goals and 23 points in 26 playoff games last spring really show that O’Reilly has got it when it matters most, so the 29-year-old will continue rising up the rankings as long as he’s a playoff performer with solid regular season credentials.

Holding out optimism for Torey Krug to re-sign with the Bruins

Holding out optimism for Torey Krug to re-sign with the Bruins

Between Bruce Cassidy commenting on the potential future of the power play and Joe Haggerty's recent article on how COVID could impact the Bruins' finances, Torey Krug is once again a water cooler topic.

In case anyone forgot, the 29-year-old defenseman will be a free agent whenever this season ends, and a potential return to Boston appears to be something of a coin flip.

If I were the B's, I wouldn't accept defeat on this one. Krug should not be considered expendable, so short of matching what he'd get on the open market, the B's should leave few stones unturned in trying to retain one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL.

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WHY IT ISN'T LOOKING GOOD

Right off the bat, Krug entering a walk year without a contract was a bad sign, as the Bruins historically have either re-upped prime UFAs to-be before their walk years (Chara, Bergeron, Marchand) or let them walk (Nathan Horton).

COVID obviously made matters worse. The salary cap has increased every year since the 2012-13 lockout, but it's assumed the cap will stay flat at $81.5 million in wake of the COVID pandemic crushing league revenues.

Had it gone up, the B's obviously would have been in better shape to throw $7.5 million-plus annually at Krug while also re-upping guys like Zdeno Chara (UFA), Jake DeBrusk (RFA) and Matt Grzelcyk (RFA).

Now? Eh. Kevan Miller, Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Beleskey are coming off the books. Given the rest of the contracts that are up, the Bruins would have about $17,959,409 in cap space against a flat $81.5 million cap. They'd need to sign Chara, DeBrusk, Grzelcyk and Anders Bjork as well. Haggerty's piece estimated AAVs of $2 million for Chara (the same as this season), $2.5 million for Grzelcyk and $1.5 million for Bjork.

That would leave the Bruins with $11.9 million to sign Krug and DeBrusk, the latter of whom could be a toughie.

While the average Bruins fan would probably call Jake DeBrusk "good, but inconsistent," his agent will rightfully call him a player who's averaged 20 goals a season over the course of his rookie contract (16, 27, 19). That means he could be looking at a $3.5 million cap hit on a two-year bridge deal, or more on a longterm deal.

Say DeBrusk comes in at $3.5 million. That would leave the B's with $8.4 million to roster both Krug and a Joakim Nordstrom replacement. The margins would be razor-thin in Year 1, and the uncertainty of when the league would have fans in the stands would make it tough to project how much the cap would increase in subsequent years.

WHY THEY SHOULD BE TRYING EVERYTHING

Over the last three seasons, Krug is fifth among NHL defensemen in points per game. He was fifth in points among D this season. The idea that he's expendable because he isn't very tall is stupid. With Charlie McAvoy entering his prime, having prime Krug and McAvoy holding down one pairing each would keep Boston's back end offensively potent.

Plus, doesn't the Bruins re-upping Jaroslav Halak for next season tell you that they want to go for it one more time with this group in the event that they can't manage to make a run in the unusual return format for this season? Trying to do it again without Krug would be a heavy task.

WHAT THE BRUINS CAN DO

Obviously, it takes two to tango. Krug, a converted Bostonian, truly loves the city. With teams like his actual hometown Red Wings flush with enough cap space to easily throw $8.5 million or more at him annually, Krug would need to take a discount to return to the Bruins.

And without knowing a thing about the negotiations, my guess is he would. The question is whether he'd be OK with not being the highest-paid player on the team, a distinction that currently belongs to David Krejci ($7.25 million through next season). Krug would get more than that on the open market.

If the Bruins want to sign Krug while maintaining some breathing room, there are options. Trading John Moore would hurt them when it comes time for the 2021 expansion draft, but Boston has young defensemen who would replace (and perhaps upgrade) what Moore brings, and for roughly $1.8 million less. Nick Ritchie ($1.5 million) could be replaced by an entry level player or veteran on the minimum.

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All in all, Krug returning to Boston is possible. That it hasn't happened by now suggests it might not, but the Bruins would be wise to try and make it happen.

Some real uncertainty about Torey Krug's return to Bruins after this summer

Some real uncertainty about Torey Krug's return to Bruins after this summer

The reality is that nobody knows what lies ahead from an economical landscape in the world of professional sports. And anybody that professes to know exactly what will happen is bald-faced lying to you.

That’s the reason there have been only a handful of one-way NHL contracts for over $1 million per season since Jaroslav Halak signed a one-year extension with the Bruins all the way back on May 1.

Essentially, Halak and the recent signing of Ryan Reaves to an extension with the Vegas Golden Knights are the only NHL contracts of consequence that have been completed in the entire league over the last two months. Caution is in the air with NHL general managers crunching the numbers on flat salary caps for a couple of seasons moving forward, if not even worse scenarios than that based on the speculation that arenas could be empty going into the 2020-21 regular season as well.

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It's this caution and uneasiness that serves as the backdrop for looming Bruins free agent defenseman Torey Krug, who is destined for unrestricted free agency once the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs come to an eventual, elongated conclusion.

There was a time when Krug and the Bruins might have been able to make a deal based on the salary cap space that Boston cleared by ridding themselves of the David Backes contract, and based on the salary cap going up from the $81.5 million salary cap ceiling this past season.

Krug has consistently maintained he’d like to remain in Boston with all things being equal, though there had been little talk of taking “a hometown discount” after the 29-year-old defenseman said that early on this season.

"There hasn't been any discussion," said Krug back in April during 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.

"[Boston] has 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."

Estimates had the salary cap rising to roughly $84 million with the B’s already committed to $63 million in guaranteed contracts for next season.

But that was before the outbreak of COVID-19 put the regular season on pause in mid-March and put the notion of business as usual far back in the NHL rear-view mirror. Assuming the Bruins face a flat salary cap for next season, that leaves them with roughly $18.5 million in salary cap space for next season with 17 regulars locked up.

The Bruins also have to come up with contracts for unrestricted free agent Zdeno Chara, restricted free agent Matt Grzelcyk, restricted free agent Anders Bjork and restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk along with Krug. Let’s assume that Chara signs for something in the neighborhood of this season’s $2 million incentive-laden deal, arbitration-eligible Grzelcyk signs for roughly $2.5 million AAV and Bjork for roughly $1.5 million AAV based on this past season’s breakthrough as a regular top-9 winger in Boston.

It would also mean walking away from free agents Joakim Nordstrom and Kevan Miller at the end of this season, which seems pretty self-evident given the chance to replace Nordstrom and Miller’s inability to get back on the ice due to injury issues.

The difficulty will come down to signing both Krug and DeBrusk to important contracts with something in the neighborhood of $11-12 million remaining in cap space after the Bruins take care of their other players. Krug has been pretty mum about his status with the Bruins other than to say A) he’d like to remain in Boston with all things being equal and B) that there has been very little progress on a new contract over the past year.

It’s a tough spot for both player and the hockey club because of the financial uncertainty. It’s more likely now that Krug is going to sign for as much money as he can get now given the uncharted waters ahead. Krug would have been able to command an annual salary in the $8 million AAV range based on his offensive production over the last handful of seasons, something few of his peers can boast.

Since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, only Brent Burns ($8 million per season), John Carlson ($8 million per season), Victor Hedman ($7.875 million per season), Roman Josi ($9.059 million per season) and Erik Karlsson ($11.5 million per season) have produced more points among defensemen than the 212 posted by Krug. That is heavy-duty NHL company with a capital “H” and demonstrates how in-demand Krug would be as a PP quarterback, puck-mover, point-producer and top-4 defenseman capable of playing 20-plus minutes a night in the NHL grind.

Those kinds of players don’t grow on hockey trees. Those kinds of players get paid and they get paid big money. Every player on the aforementioned list of Krug’s peers is paid a minimum of $7.875 million per season, and others like Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Jarred Spurgeon are making upwards of $7 million per season as well.

The unknown question is how much of an adjustment there will be made to all NHL contracts once each of the 31 teams scramble out from under the rubble of the COVID-19 impact.

Interestingly, Bruce Cassidy wondered aloud what he might do next season if Krug is not a part of the Bruins picture based on the economics during a discussion with The Athletic about the Black and Gold’s power play. Cassidy has been toying with the idea of five forwards on the top Bruins power play, and that should tell you that the Bruins know there’s a very real possibility they simply cannot afford Krug’s next bank-busting deal.

“Is it Grizz or Charlie? Or is it a fifth forward?” asked Cassidy. “That’s one thing I’ve been brainstorming. It’s been rattling around in my head a little bit. Not for this year. We have Torey in place. It may never be [if Krug ends up re-signing]. But it’s one of those things to put in the hopper for down the road.”

There’s also the Patriots-like salary hierarchy already in place with the Black and Gold. Do they want to pay Krug more than Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak and make him the highest-paid player on the roster as an undersized, elite offensive defenseman who's approaching 30 years old? Or do they expect Krug to make a little bit less than market value as all of Boston’s other players have done in recent seasons to keep the band together?  

Clearly, they would miss him on a top power play unit that’s vital to the overall success of the Bruins and they would miss his fiery, passionate leadership as a key “middle guy” between the younger and older generations inside the Bruins dressing room.

But unless something unforeseen happens — like a decision to trade Jake DeBrusk rather than pay him or some miracle trade where they can cut more salary after already spending a first round pick to escape the David Backes albatross — it feels like it’s an increasing longshot that Krug is going to be back with Boston after this final summer hurrah.