NHL teams have begun to call the Boston Bruins to see what it will take to acquire the negotiating rights to impending unrestricted free agent Torey Krug. With the free agency negotiating window eliminated in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement the NHL and NHLPA signed back in July, teams do not have a chance to recruit and negotiate potential contracts with unrestricted free agents like Krug. Therefore, more NHL General Managers are working the phones to facilitate their own recruiting period with targeted UFA’s by acquiring their negotiating rights.
“I can’t tell you the teams, but I can tell you, Sweeney’s phone is lighting up and teams want to know how high a pick they’d need to surrender for Torey Krug,” an NHL source told Boston Hockey Now on Monday.
It should be noted as well that due to the NHL pause and what will likely be a fast and condensed offseason, that NHL teams like the Boston Bruins who have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs and teams that didn’t make the postseason, can make trades while the playoffs are still going.
The Montreal Canadiens became the first team to use this end-around to start talking with a UFA they had targeted and acquired the negotiating rights for UFA-to-be defenseman Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes for a fifth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft on October 6-7. Unrestricted free agency begins two days later and now the Habs have exclusive negotiating rights with Edmundson until October 9.
The 27-year-old Edmundson had seven goals and 13 assists in 68 games with the Hurricanes this past season. That’s a far cry from the nine goals and 40 assists in 61 games that Torey Krug amassed in the 2019-20 NHL season. Krug had also cracked the 50-point plateau in each of his three previous regular seasons for the Bruins. So if Edmundson netted the Hurricanes a fifth-round pick, what could a highly coveted powerplay quarterback like Krug bring back to the Bruins.
Sweeney and team President Cam Neely, as well as Krug himself, have made it clear that the two sides are nowhere close to finding common ground or as Sweeney put it last week, “a landing spot” on a new contract to keep Torey Krug in Boston.
“Well we haven’t found a landing spot,” Sweeney said just under a week ago. “Listen I respect Torey coming in as a rookie free agent and making our hockey club. “I only hope that we made the moves to accommodate what he and his family and agent feel he has earned. I would be the last person to begrudge any player trying to make the best decision for them and their family, and in a perfect world it’s with us, but we know that the world is anything but perfect right about now. So again, I don’t have an update on an individual contract level.”
Forget about finding “a landing spot” on a new contract with Krug, the highest-scoring defenseman for the Bruins since he entered the NHL in April 2012 after signing out of Michigan State, made it seem as if there’s been minimal, if any contract discussions between his agent, him and the Bruins all season.
“The contact was very few and far between for whatever reason. It is what it is…I don’t really know what the future holds in terms of the coming weeks,” Krug said on September 3.
So with contract talks still at a stalemate, Sweeney now has the option to at least get a draft pick instead of letting Torey Krug walk. The question is, could he actually reclaim a first round pick at the draft after trading away his 2020 first round pick, along with forward Danton Heinen to acquire forward Ondrej Kase just prior to the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline