Restricted free agent defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy aren’t the only ones in limbo. The Boston Bruins are also playing it cool with defenseman Torey Krug who will be an unrestricted free agent next July.
An NHL source close to the situation told Boston Hockey Now that there have been no new talks for an extension between the Bruins and their highest-scoring defenseman and power-play quarterback. Krug is entering the final season of a four-year, $21 million extension he signed on June 30, 2016.
This apparent lack of communication would obviously be connected to the Bruins restrictive salary cap space. They have just $7.2 million remaining and still need to sign RFA defensemen McAvoy and Carlo. But it also goes beyond the immediate.
One has to wonder if the reality of the Bruins salary cap situation and the fact that if Krug reaches unrestricted free agency on July 1, 2020, will the Bruins be able to match what many NHL pro scouts and some managers believe could be upwards of seven, eight. …maybe even $9 million for one of the league’s elite puck-moving defenseman?
Krug easily made the NHL Network’s list of top-20 defensemen.
Following the Bruins’ heartbreaking loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final June 12 at TD Garden, Krug and then Sweeney expressed mutual admiration and a desire to extend the 28-year-old rearguard. However, a few days later Sweeney also didn’t rule out a trade either. Krug has become not only a key cog on the Bruins’ blue line but the bridge leader between the veteran core and the talented young nucleus of a team that should contend for the Stanley cup in 2019-20 and potentially beyond.
Sweeney made it clear how much he values Krug’s play and leadership at the end fo the season press conference.
“(We) have the opportunity starting July 1 to open up talks,” he pointed out. “Again the RFA market and some of our internal things will dictate the timing of those conversations. If somebody blew us away, every player has to be looked at in that way when your organization, you just have to, you’re doing a disservice if you don’t. But it would take a pretty unique opportunity to part with Torey. I think he’s a big part of the fabric of our group, he’s kind of that next wave of leadership that we talk about in behind some of the guys that have carried that mantle for a long period of time. But he’s an important part of our club.”
Following that Game 7 loss, Krug expressed his desire to avoid the distraction of heading into his walk year without a contract:
“I’d personally love to get something done quickly,” Krug said after the team’s exit interviews. “This is an important place in my heart. A place I’ve wanted to play my whole career so ideally, it would be something that gets done. But obviously, it’ll all be done in due time. I want to be here. I’m sure they feel the same way so hopefully, that’s the case.”
Now it appears the Bruins remain hamstrung by the McAvoy and Carlo negotiations, which are also proceeding at a snail’s pace. While that is very much understood considering the balance of the now and the future, one has to wonder if there is an escape route that the Bruins are considering?