Torey Krug’s next contract could prove to be a storyline that dominates the Boston Bruins’ 2019-20 campaign.
The 28-year-old defenseman is on the final season of a four-year deal that carries a $5.25 million cap hit — and considering his offensive production in recent years, he’s due for a payday come next July. But the Bruins are the only NHL organization Krug has ever played for, and, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the blueliner said he is happy in Boston but still wants fair value on his next deal.
“I love the situation I’m in,” Krug told ESPN. “I’m pretty sure my teammates would love me to come back. My coach [Bruce Cassidy] I know for a fact loves the way I play. This last playoffs was big for me and my development and my growth. I feel like I’m just hitting my prime.”
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No. 47 scored 53 points in 64 games last season and regularly quarterbacks the team’s power play, which scored at a 25.9 percent rate in 2018-19, third-most among all NHL teams.
“Would I take less to stay in Boston? It’s something that I’ve talked about with my family and my agent,” Krug said on whether he would take a “hometown discount” to remain a Bruin. “It’s something I’m interested in. How much less — that’s a question that will be answered at a certain time. I think something that’s fair will be able to be worked out both ways. As long as they want me, I think something could be done, realistically. Everyone does it. How much they do it, is kind of their own opinion and [dependent] on their own circumstances.”
The Bruins already own three of the league’s most valuable contracts in star forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak — none of the three are the team’s highest paid players despite all playing together on the top line so frequently. But Krug has counted the reasons why his teammates make less money than they could.
“Marchy is way too low, because he signed one year too early,” Krug said of Marchand, the 100-point scorer who signed his current deal, which counts for $6.125 million against the salary cap, a full season before the previous contract expired.
“Pasta had no [arbitration] rights, so he had to take a little bit less out of pure nature,” Krug said about Pastrnak, whose $6.66 million cap hit pales in comparison to some contracts other elite young forwards have signed after their rookie deals ended in recent years.
Krug also pointed out that Boston’s top center signed his current deal in 2013, when salaries around the league were lower and teams could spend only up to $64.3 million. The salary cap has increased since then, to $81.5 million for the current league year.
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“Bergeron’s deal is just so old, and that’s why it seems low,” he said.
Bergeron’s $6.875 million deal took up nearly 11 percent of what the team could spend at the time, but now it accounts for just under 8.5 percent toward the salary cap’s upper limit.
“So everyone’s situation is a little bit different, everyone took less at some point, but it’s just a matter of circumstance,” Krug said.
What Krug considers a respectable “hometown discount” and what the Bruins may be able to offer him could be a point of contention when negotiations ramp up. Boston GM Don Sweeney has said he does not want to trade Krug and has made a habit in years past of locking down star players before their contracts’ final season begins. Whether the team and Krug’s camp can find a deal that works for both sides remains to be seen.