The first 57 games of the regular season have seen Torey Krug build a case for Rookie of the Year consideration. Among rookies, Krug currently ranks top five in assists and points, while sitting in the top ten for goals and plus/minus. To put that into perspective, he is the only defensemen to place among the top ten in any of the three offensive categories. In addition to his impressive rookie season, he left his mark on the Bruins fan base in the spring, lighting the lamp four times in 15 playoffs games as the team marched to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Krug’s performance to date has done wonders for Boston’s power play and has, in the bigger picture, contributed greatly to the team’s overall success. His elite offensive production from the back end has raised the question, will Torey Krug be the next player that the Boston Bruins lock-up with a long term contract extension?
When the Bruins lured Krug to Boston in the spring of 2012, they did so with contract incentives. The most notable of these incentives was the guarantee that he would finish the season with the NHL club. By spending the remainder of the 2011-2012 season in the NHL, he was able to burn the first year of his entry-level deal.
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Fast forward two years, Krug has become an essential part of the Bruins roster. He’s the quarterback of Boston’s top power play unit, a group that has dramatically improved upon their performance from recent years. His speed and vision has been immensely helpful on the breakout, helping to shore up an area of concern for the team.
Boston already has six defensemen under contract for next season, with Krug and Matt Bartkowski set to become restricted free agents on July 1st. Although the cap is expected to increase next season, the Bruins won’t have a lot of room to operate for new deals. Their offseason to-do list will include re-signing Reilly Smith (a pending RFA), re-signing or replacing Jarome Iginla, and finding a backup goaltender. In addition to these new deals, the Bruins will likely carry a few million dollars of salary bonuses into their payroll for next year, further chipping away at their cap space.
So where does this leave Krug?
It is hard to envision a scenario where the Bruins enter next year without Krug on the roster. That said, the Bruins will likely be looking to sign Krug to a bridge contract, similar to the two year contract that Brad Marchand signed in 2011. The reasoning for that approach in Krug’s case would be to financially reward him for his contributions thus far, while giving the team more time to determine his long-term value to the team.
The Bruins hold a lot of leverage in these negotiations. Any team that makes Krug an offer as a restricted free agent would be obligated to pay Boston with draft pick compensation. Essentially, signing Krug is more costly to every other team than it would be for the Bruins. Additionally, the Bruins already have a full complement of defensemen under contract.
What will Krug’s contract numbers look like?
On a short-term deal, the soon-to-be 23 year old will likely be looking at somewhere in the range of $2 million annually. Johnny Boychuk is a more critical piece to the Bruins defensive core at the moment, logging more than 20 minutes a game, making it unlikely the Bruins would pay Krug in the same ballpark. Boychuk’s annual salary is currently at $3.36 million, which would be a jumping off point for Krug’s camp, although the opportunity to increase his value and re-negotiate in two or three years should be appealing enough to convince them to compromise on the dollars.
Krug’s game has improved exponentially since joining the Bruins organization, making it a no-brainer for Boston to re-sign him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team reach an agreement with Krug prior to the summer, coming in at two years and $2.25 million per year.