Regardless of what happens this offseason, Torey Krug will go down as not just the best undrafted college free agent signing in Bruins history, but one of the best in recent NHL history.
Since his rookie season in 2013-14, Krug has ranked seventh among NHL defensemen in points during that time with 335, trailing only Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman, John Carlson, Roman Josi and Keith Yandle.
He has been the quarterback of a Bruins power play that frequently ranks at or near the top of the league.
The now-29-year-old has also become an important team leader for the Bruins despite not wearing a captain’s letter, as he has served as an important bridge between the team’s veteran core and younger players.
But the feel-good story that is Krug’s tenure in Boston could very well be coming to an end. Because of the high-end player he has developed into, Krug is set to become one of the top free agents on the market this fall when free agency opens.
Based on comments from all sides during the season, during the pause and since the Bruins’ season ended, it seems that while Krug and the Bruins remain fond of each other and would like for the relationship to continue if money weren’t a factor, they remain a good distance apart when it comes to a possible deal.
Krug has said that talks were “very, very few and far between” during the season and has made it clear that he intends to take advantage of the one real chance he’ll have in his career to maximize his value.
General manager Don Sweeney acknowledged on Thursday that “we haven’t found a landing spot.”
Speaking to the media via Zoom on Thursday, team president Cam Neely said the Bruins “love” Krug and what he’s turned into for the team, but also said he understands Krug’s desire to see what else is out there if Boston can’t meet his asking price.
“I understand the player’s side,” Neely said. “Being a player, you certainly understand where a player’s head’s at at times. I don’t begrudge Torey, if we can’t work something out that makes sense for him and his family, I do not begrudge him for looking to see if he can get a better deal elsewhere.
“We love Torey. We love what he’s brought to the organization both on and off the ice. He’s turned into a fabulous leader for us. But at the end of the day, both sides have to do what they feel is right, us for the organization and Torey for him and his family.”
Both Sweeney and coach Bruce Cassidy have identified a need for more offensive contributions from the blue line, something Krug certainly brings, but while it may make short-term sense to invest big money in Krug, it’s also easy to see the other side of not wanting to commit big money to a smaller defenseman into his mid- to late-30s.
If Krug finds that big-money, long-term deal elsewhere, which he probably will (hello, Red Wings), and decides that’s what is best for him and his family, then the Bruins may very well decide that no matter how much they like Krug, matching it is not what’s best for them.