Rookie defenseman Torey Krug became an instant hit with the Boston Bruins‘ fan base when he scored four goals in five games against the New York Rangers in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. While Krug did play significant time with the Bruins in the playoffs last spring, he was considered a rookie during this regular season. In doing so, the undrafted free agent from Michigan State inserted himself into the Bruins’ defense conversation for the remainder of the postseason and for the foreseeable future. And now that his rookie contract is up, Krug will play a crucial role in Boston’s offseason plans.
This season, the 23-year-old tied with Zdeno Chara for most points among Bruins’ defensemen with 40, and was a +18 while playing on the second or third defense pairing. He was also a force on a potent power play for Boston, scoring six times on the man advantage while creating offense on the breakout and in the offensive zone. Not to mention, he also led the Bruins with 10 playoff points in 2014.
While Krug’s offensive prowess do not put him in the same category as Erik Karlsson or P.K. Subban as offensive weapons among NHL defensemen, his regular season totals placed him ahead of Drew Doughty, who is currently among the best at his position in the league. Krug’s short stature makes him a liability when it comes to hard-nosed checking in the defensive zone, but his knack for being in the right place at the right time offensively and end-to-end speed counter his lack of natural bulk.
He will be a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning that the Bruins have him under control in contract negotiations. While Krug is in for a pay raise from his $900,000 base salary from 2013-2014, a significant jump in pay is not something to expect under Peter Chiarelli. With roughly $9 million in cap space to play with, and other free agents to consider, the Bruins will use their leverage to attempt and sign Krug to a team-friendly, multi-year deal.
With Reilly Smith in the same boat as Krug in the contract perspective, Boston has an opportunity to sign these young playmakers to three-year contracts – or longer – at a relatively inexpensive rate. If either of these players were to hit the open market their value would surely skyrocket. As a result, Krug’s contract should be one that commands solid NHL defensemen rates, while not hampering the Bruins’ financial plans this summer.