3 scenarios the Bruins may face as Torey Krug’s next contract looms closer

The 28-year-old defenseman makes $5.25 million next season and is due for a pay raise moving forward.

Torey Krug's contract with the Bruins ends after next season.

Torey Krug played one of his best NHL seasons in 2018-19, scoring 53 points in 64 regular season games. He skated the second-most time on ice per game (21:18) among all Bruins and scored 18 more points in the postseason, third-most on the team. He made one of the Stanley Cup Final’s most memorable plays when he hit Blues forward Robert Thomas in Game 1.

Krug’s presence on the Bruins’ power play, which was third-most successful in the league (25.9 percent) in the regular season and operated at a postseason-best 32.4 percent success rate, makes him a backbone of the Bruins’ core.

The 28-year-old is entering the last year of four-year, $21 million deal signed in 2016. Krug’s contract carries a salary cap hit of $5.25 million for next season, and he may enter unrestricted free agency next summer. Given Krug’s age, skill level, and sustained success, he is due for a pay raise.

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Krug told reporters Friday that he has not yet spoken with the Bruins about a new contract, but said he wants to stay in Boston.

“That’s been my goal from day one, is to become part of this locker room and this core,” Krug said. “Guys have come and gone and I’ve been lucky enough to stay for a while. I want to be here forever. It’s a great group of guys. You feel really privileged to be part of the group and want to bring something to the table yourself and hopefully, I’ve done that.”

Despite Krug’s status as under contract for next season, his future is cited as a top priority for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney for this summer. Sweeney, for his part, said it would take a “pretty unique opportunity” for him to seek trading Krug Monday.

Here are three scenarios Torey Krug’s path could take over the summer and into next season:

The Bruins re-sign Krug.

As both Krug and the Bruins have stated in recent days, both sides prefer to see the defenseman stay in black and gold for years to come. But what would that cost the Bruins?

The Athletic‘s Fluto Shinzawa writes that when Krug does sign, his next contract could conceivably be seven or eight years long and worth between $6 million and $8 million each season. According to CapFriendly, the Bruins are currently project to have about $39 million in space for 2020-21, the first year Krug’s next contract would count toward. That number will decrease when the team agrees to extensions with young defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, restricted free agents this summer.

The Bruins trade Krug.

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The NHL Entry Draft takes place June 21-22 and is most often the busiest teams get in trade talks during the offseason. If Sweeney were to find a “pretty unique opportunity,” to trade Krug, it would most likely come during the draft.

While Krug has claimed a place of importance on the team’s roster, the organization features a number of prospects likely to challenge for NHL roster spots at left defense soon. It does not feature a surefire bet at right wing behind David Pastrnak moving forward, and if Sweeney goes searching for a high-end talent to join David Krejci’s wing this summer, teams are sure to ask about Krug. Trading Krug before the draft gives a new team a full year to negotiate a new contract with him, allowing that team to give the Bruins more in return.

Krug enters 2019-20 a Bruin, but without a new contract.

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The Bruins have rarely allowed core players to inch toward free agency without a new contract in recent years. Brad Marchand’s eight-year extension was announced on Sept. 26, 2016. David Pastrnak’s? Sept. 14, 2017.  But if Sweeney and Krug’s camp struggle to agree on a new contract this summer and the front office fears how a trade may impact the team’s ability to contend for the Cup next spring, the situation could play out over the course of next season.

If the Bruins contend once again for the Cup, they could push full steam ahead, knowing Krug is destined for another city regardless of the outcome. Should the team flounder in the regular season, Krug could be traded midseason before the deadline as Sweeney recoups what he can from an asset on the way out anyway.