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Murphy: Krug Proves Value, Bruins Contract Looms Large



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Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is making Stanley Cup history and in the process setting himself up for a hefty pay raise just over a year from now. The question soon will be, will it be the Bruins that gives him a well-deserved raise or someone else paying the skilled and gritty defenseman that money after July 1, 2020?

Krug’s goal and three assists helped the Bruins regain home advantage over the St. Louis Blues with a dominating 7-2 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final Saturday in St. Louis. Krug had a historic performance as he became the only Bruin to record four powerplay points in a Stanley Cup Final game and the ninth defenseman in Stanley Cup Final history to record four points in a Final game with the last being Eddie Rush in 1942.  Krug is the fourth Bruins defenseman to record that feat. Krug now has two goals and fourteen assists in 20 games played during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that’s tied for the most by a Bruins rearguard since Ray Bourque did it in 1991. Krug has 44 career playoff points in 58 games.

Right now, with their team two wins away from their second Stanley Cup in eight years and seventh in franchise history, the Bruins brass surely doesn’t mind that Krug is having one of the best Stanley Cup playoff performances in their 95-year history.

Krug now sits in the team and league record books surrounded by names like legendary Bruins Bobby Orr, Brad Park, and Bourque. In a few weeks though, will that performance begin to haunt General Manager Don Sweeney and his staff?

Krug’s Game 3 performance had some putting him in the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation. One has to now think, win or lose in the Stanley Cup Final, the impetus in the aftermath of the playoffs will be on the Bruins to extend Krug and not allow the situation to get to the point where he either walks for free just over a year from now or gets traded as those three aforementioned Bruins legends did.


Krug Deserves A Pay Raise

Krug will be entering the final season of a four-year deal that has been paying him, what during the second half of the regular season and especially in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, has become a bargain basement steal at $5.2 million per season. Krug clearly deserves a pay raise, and he will most surely be looking to get market value and cross the $7 million per season plateau with another long-term deal.  His value to the Bruins during this 20-game stretch has not been limited to his offensive and powerplay brilliance but also his play in the defensive zone, grit, and the leadership he provides. This is already his second Stanley Cup since entering the NHL late in the 2011-12 season and that 2013 Stanley Cup along with four trips to the playoffs have made his experience on the Bruins blue line invaluable to him and the team. Entering this playoff, he still had that label of just a power play specialist or offensive defenseman, but as Cassidy pointed out after his monster night in Game 3, that’s likely not the case in Boston anymore and most definitely not amongst Krug’s teammates.

“Well hopefully not in Boston. Certainly not in our locker room. Never has been,” Cassidy said when asked if Krug is still underappreciated as he was claimed was to the media. “When I said that, it was in the context of, ‘He’s an offensive defenseman, he’s a power play specialist.’ And I think people don’t realize how hard he is when he wants to play that physical game. He does play big minutes now lately against good players with [Brandon] Carlo. … Torey’s stepped up, and he wanted that responsibility to be a second-pair behind [Zdeno Chara], playing good lines. And he’s met the challenge.”

With the Bruins facing the task of locking up three key restricted free agents this summer in Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, and Danton Heinen, as well as unrestricted free agents like Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari, and then with Krug and Charlie Coyle hitting unrestricted free agency and Jake DeBrusk a restricted free agent, Sweeney will have to work some magic to keep all of those players. Due to that tricky future that’s looming more and more now, Krug’s name was brought up in multiple trade rumors last summer and likely will be again once the Bruins’ offseason begins. When asked about the rumors then, Krug scoffed at them and pointed out his unique value to the team.

“You try to ignore it and then you laugh about certain things. You just focus on what you do as an individual and on your job every day, and then, whatever happens, happens,” Krug said at the time. “It’s just funny when you read something and then realize that there’s probably no chance certain things can happen…then others pick up on it and snowballs into a rumor or something.

There are things you can’t control as an athlete, and that’s just part of it. Look, if [Wayne] Gretzky can get traded then anybody can get traded, so it doesn’t really matter from that perspective. You’d definitely feel wanted [if others teams inquired about you], but I have a job to do here and I feel that nobody else does the job that I do here.”

Krug has made it clear he loves being a Bruin and even those close to him and the team echoed his sentiments.

“I’m pretty sure he’d love to spend his career here,” Bourque told BostonHockeyNow last week. “He and his family love this place, this area and I hope it happens for them, that would be great.”

Is this historic playoff run enough to convince Sweeney and his staff that Krug has to be one of those key upcoming free agents he needs to keep and make the hopes of Bourque, Krug, Krug’s teammates and Bruins fans alike become a reality?

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