In the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins blue line was decimated with injuries. To fill a role in the back end, the team called up an undersized, 5-foot-9-inch defenceman from the Providence Bruins. To that point in his career, he had only played in three NHL games. Needless to say, there was a lot of pressure on the young defender. He would make the most of the spotlight. Krug would not return to the AHL, becoming a key piece of Boston’s blue line and powerplay. Torey Krug’s future with the team could be in doubt, however.
The Future of the Torey Krug and the Boston Bruins
College and his first Contract
Krug was a highly sought-after free agent, following the conclusion of his NCAA career at Michigan State. The undrafted defenceman was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award (college hockey MVP), CCHA Player of the Year, and a First Team All-Star in the 2011-12 season. He would ultimately decide that Boston was the best place for him to be and would sign an entry-level deal worth $2.75 million. At the end of that contract he would be signed to two, consecutive, one year deals. In 2016, Krug finally got a deal worth his talents. A four year contract worth $5.25 million each year.
The Situation Now
This season, Torey Krug enters the final year of his big contract. The Bruins are projected to have around $25 million in cap space for next season, which is plenty to sign Krug to another contract worth around $5 million per year. The problem is that after this season, the Bruins have a lot of expiring contracts. The list of players who will hit free agency after this season also includes Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, Matt Grzelcyk, Jaroslav Halak, Charlie Coyle, Chris Wagner, and Jake Debrusk. And that isn’t even everyone. Of those names, Krug will be one of the priority players, but this team could take a big hit in 2020.
Krug has the desire to remain in Boston. Before Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo came to an agreement on their contracts, Krug publicly stated that he would take a pay cut to remain in Boston. If he takes a team-friendly deal, Boston is in good shape. They likely would not be able to keep everyone they want, but they could potentially keep more of the team intact.
What Torey Krug’s Future Means in Boston
I want to emphasize the importance of Torey Krug to this team. The offensive d-man has been an extremely effective power-play quarterback for Boston, running the third-best unit in the NHL last season. They scored on 25.9% of all power-play opportunities. Krug has 132 power-play points over his career. He is a dominant force for Boston when they need a scoring boost, to say the least. And while he may be undersized for a defenceman, he is not afraid to be physical, as displayed by his brutal check of St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals.
If Boston loses Krug, the results could be devastating. Krug has played a valuable role in Boston for a long time as a top-four defenceman. If they were to lose him, the Bruins second defensive pair would be significantly weakened. Grzlecyk has potential but still plays a bottom-pairing role. Kevan Miller is not getting any younger, already 31 years old. John Moore is a very capable player, but I would not slot him in for a second pair role over Miller or Grzlecyk. The best thing Boston has going for them defensively is former first-round selection Urho Vaakanainen. Vaakanainen was just assigned to the AHL. He needs to develop more before Boston can consider bringing him to the NHL full time.
This upcoming offseason will be bigger for Boston than many may realize. If Krug does not return to Boston, this team could be looking at an uncertain future. While many of the core pieces will remain in Beantown, the loss of one of the most underrated defenceman could bring this team down. Hopefully, the Bruins will take full advantage of Krug being willing to take less to stay with the only team he has ever played for.