Unless Torey Krug and the Bruins are able to get a deal done in the next few weeks, the 29-year-old defenseman is set to become one of the top free agents on the market whenever free agency opens this fall.
It seems like it would take a fairly dramatic change for the two sides to strike a deal before then, as Krug said on Thursday that there weren’t many contract talks during the season.
“The contact was very, very few and far between, for whatever reason,” Krug said. “It is what it is. As far as what it looks like, I don’t really know what the future holds in terms of the coming weeks. … So, we’ll see. I guess there’s a lot of time between now and (free agency). I’m not really sure what the future holds and I’m willing to sit back and see what happens here.”
Krug has made it clear for a while that he loves Boston and the life he has here -- he now has a family here that includes his young daughter and a dog named Fenway -- and that he would like to remain with the Bruins all things being equal.
Krug said Thursday that remains the case, and that fit and comfort will still be factors in his final decision.
“I think (fit) weighs heavily on any decision an athlete can make,” Krug said. “If you don’t consider that, then I think you’re foolish. But for me it’s very important. I think you can make all the money in the world and have all the security in the world, but if you’re not comfortable in the situation, you’re not happy, then every day is going to be tough to get up and excited to show up to work and give it all. For me it’s very important.
“I think it’s kind of tough to forecast two, three, four years down the line, and try to understand what that fit will feel like then, because players move on, coaches move on. Those are just some of the things you have to consider. It’s a big part of the decision. Obviously I’ve made it well-known that I feel very comfortable in Boston. I like my role here, I’m comfortable with the coach, and I love my teammates. It’s no secret, and it’s a big part of the decision.”
That said, Krug is also open to the possibility that his career is meant to go in a different direction at this point, noting that you have to separate the emotional attachment from the business side of it.
“I’ve spent my whole adult life, my whole professional career here in this organization and city,” Krug said. “I’ve done seemingly everything that they’ve asked of me. I’m proud of that. I’ve put all my energy into trying to help this team win games and win championships. We’ve come close twice now and unfortunately it wasn’t in the cards for us. But I’m a big believer that there’s a journey for all of us, and whether it’s here or somewhere else, I’m not too worried about it or anxious about it.
“But yeah, there’s an emotional attachment. That’s a mistake that a lot of athletes get caught up in when they start their professional careers, is there’s nothing personal about it. It’s business on both ends. Teams have to put the best team forward, spending certain amounts of money, and athletes have one shot at making all their money in their career, whether you play one, two, three years in the league up to 10-15 years. You have one shot to do it all, and I realize that. It is what it is, but there definitely is an emotional attachment. There’s no secret. I’ve been very outspoken about it. My teammates know it, everyone knows it, so yeah it’s part of the business. It stinks, but we’ll see what happens moving forward.”
On that business front, Krug is making it clear that he plans to cash in and maximize his value. There had been some though that with the salary cap remaining flat in light of the pandemic, some free agents might be willing to take shorter, prove-it kind of deals in hopes of the economic landscape improving next year.
“I’m very opposed to that,” Krug said of that kind of deal. “I’ve bet on myself and I’ve taken shorter-term deals and less amount of money my whole career now, so this is my time in terms of my value at its peak. I have the ability and I’m in a position now where I need to make the most of it. So yeah, I’m very opposed to something like that. I’ve done it long enough now and that’s the situation I’m facing.”
One of the teams that is expected to make a strong push for Krug, and that could be his most likely landing spot if he leaves the Bruins, is his hometown Detroit Red Wings. While they had the worst record in the NHL this season and have been mired in a frustrating rebuild, they also have a lot of cap space, a huge need on the blue line, and the ability to make Krug one of their team captains right off the bat.
The combination of the money and the opportunity to help lead his childhood team back to the right path could be appealing to Krug, but he says he hasn’t yet given much thought to other teams’ situations or what might be out there for him.
“I’ve got to be honest, I haven’t thought about any other team or any other situation,” Krug said. “It’s been — I was very truthful and honest with you guys when I told you I wasn’t thinking about it during the season. I invested all my time into what’s going on with the Bruins and was very hopeful that it would result in ending back up with the Bruins. So I haven’t thought about any other team or any other situation up to date.
“Likely as we approach free agency I’ll probably have to do that, but I haven’t thought about anything. Very proud of what we’ve done here in Boston over the years and being part of that core group. Guys have come and gone and I’ve managed to stay here for, what is it, eight years now? Very happy that I was part of it. Hopefully that continues and hopefully I still am. That’s just the situation that’s here.”