Torey Krug (4 points) continues case for Bruins extension in win over Wild

Matt Kalman
February 01, 2020 - 11:39 pm

The Minnesota Wild are projected to have just about $10 million in cap space available this coming summer when Bruins defenseman Torey Krug might be an unrestricted free agent.

For an organization stuck in the middle of missing the playoffs while not finishing low enough in the standings to earn a high draft pick, the Wild could use the injection of talent Krug would bring. Unfortunately for them, whether he stays with Boston or departs for another team, he’s unlikely to be calling the Twin Cities home in the future and instead will be tormenting the Wild for years to come.

Krug again showed the Wild, the Bruins and all the scouts that are bearing down watching games with less than one month until the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline, just what he can do with a two-goal, four-point night in a 6-1 romp of Minnesota.

The 28-year-old started the night with his first goal in 14 games on a backhander from the slot.

If the Wild felt like they were suffering from déjà vu, they were right because back in November, Krug similarly victimized them.

He added another goal during a power play with a little bit of a lucky bounce.

Krug added two assists and helped the Bruins’ power play go 3-for-4 one night after two Boston power-play goals were all that was needed to beat Winnipeg 2-1. Jaroslav Halak returned to form in net with 25 saves, and David Pastrnak scored his league-leading 38th goal and added two assists.

But the game revolved around Krug, who made sure the Bruins wouldn’t have a letdown after their emotional win over the Jets. Unlike Winnipeg, the Wild seemingly had no intention of upping the temperature of the game with physical play, and that could’ve lulled the Bruins into a sense of comfort. Krug, who’s an emotional leader of the Bruins in addition to being their offensive dynamo, didn’t let the Wild hypnotize the Bruins, instead sending yet another message to Boston and the rest of the league that it’ll soon be time to pay the piper.

This space has been adamant about the Bruins’ need to retain Krug’s services beyond this season. If anything, the past couple months have intensified that need, with Matt Grzelcyk – the supposed heir apparent to Krug – regressing a tad even in a third-pair role.

Although it’s been floated that Krug could fetch $9 million on the open market, there’s no actual evidence that this is the case considering there are only three NHL defensemen – Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban – with a cap hit of that much. Considering two of those guys are future Hall of Famers and the third might be Hall-bound but is struggling to keep up with the game at 30 years old (Subban), teams aren’t going to putting Krug into that upper echelon salary-wise.

With Krug, who has said several times he's just looking for a fair deal, it’s going to be more about term than money, as the player will be looking for security and stability – things he’d obviously have if he could stay with the only NHL organization he has ever known.

What’s the downside of going six or seven years on a $7-8 million per season contract with Krug? For at least one more season, he can continue to form a strong second defense pair with Brandon Carlo, who continues to grow by leaps and bounds and has already usurped Zdeno Chara as the Bruins’ top defensive defenseman. Krug has improved defensively as well, but Carlo makes him look much better. Krug might wind up making a dynamic pair with Charlie McAvoy, if the younger McAvoy reaches his potential as the type of two-way defenseman that could help Krug out defensively.

In the back end of said contract, Krug might begin to break down and might not be able to handle the same defensive responsibilities as Carlo or McAvoy. Perhaps Krug will see his minutes shrink and need to play on a third pair. However, what are the odds his power play skills diminish at the same pace as his 5-on-5 skills? Considering how he keeps the power play humming, it’d be worth having him around. As long as the Bruins keep pumping out young, cheap players to fill out their roster and the salary cap keeps increasing (new NHL TV deal coming and a 32nd team coming soon), there are plenty of factors that make a long-term Krug commitment worth the risk.

There are a lot of variable about the Bruins’ future roster we don’t know, like which prospects will pan out and what players might get injured. But we know Grzelcyk maintains decent trade value. And we know one way or another – trade, buyout or Ilya Kovalchuk-style contract termination – David Backes’ extraction from the Bruins will offer some level of salary-cap relief. The Bruins can afford to keep Krug if they’re willing to assume the aforementioned risk in terms of term.

Torey Krug didn’t need to post a four-point game in Minnesota to prove his worth, but the Bruins needed him to do that to help them start their post-All-Star break schedule 2-0. They should commit to at least another half decade of him producing that way in black and gold.

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