Torey Krug

Krug hopes Bruins tenure isn’t coming to an end

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There were 12 games left in the Bruins’ regular season when the NHL hit “pause” last month. The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs were scheduled to begin Wednesday and Boston was prepared for another deep run.

One player the Bruins would be relying on is Torey Krug, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the soon-to-be 29-year-old defenseman said there have been no contract talks with the Bruins since the season was postponed.

Krug was on pace to hit 50 points for a fourth straight season and will command a decent sum north of the $5.25 million cap hit he pulled in when he signed his current deal in 2016.

No one knows what will happen with the rest of the 2019-20 NHL season and Krug is hoping that he’ll be able to wear the black and gold again.

[Bettman on status of ’19-20 NHL season: ‘’We’re viewing all of our options’]

“I think for anyone that’s been through this, and obviously we’re all in a relatively similar situation, there’s so many unknowns, and you only can control so much of that,” Krug said. “And for me personally I really hope I did not play my last game as a Boston Bruin. It’s been a special place for me and my family to grow, and my love for the game and playing in front of these fans, it’s been very special for me.

“But [the NHL pause] hasn’t given any clarity, if anything I think it’s made me wonder about this process a little bit more because I was just in the moment and playing games to help my team win, and hopefully push us in the right direction to win a championship. And now with this season paused I’ve definitely wondered about what’s going to happen, but in terms of clarity there pretty much has been none. From a business perspective I would assume — well, I mean I can’t put any assumption on it — I can only guess that things are going to look a little bit different from the salary cap perspective next year and team structures as well are going to be affected by that, but I really have no clarity.”

That last part will be key for not only Krug but other free agents this summer. How much will next season’s salary cap, which had an early projection of capping off between $84 million and $88.2 million, be affected by a potential decrease in revenues if a full regular season and playoffs cannot be played? That’s among the numerous questions that will have to be answered when the NHL is given a green light to resume play.

According to Cap Friendly, the Bruins currently have a little over $61 million tied up for next season. Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork, Matt Grzcelcyk, Jaroslav Halak, and captain Zdeno Chara are among the names eligible to become UFA or restricted free agents this summer.

MORE BRUINS:
• Looking at the 2019-20 Bruins
What is the Bruins’ long-term outlook?

Bruins’ biggest surprises, disappointments

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

What is the long-term outlook for the Bruins?

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Boston Bruins.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

The Bruins have two big things going for them to maintain a pretty big window for Stanley Cup contention.

The most important is that they have a great core of talent to build around in David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, David Krejci, and Brandon Carlo.

Along with that is the fact they have a significant portion of their team signed long-term on deals that not only have term, but are also below market value. Nobody on the team carries a salary cap hit of greater than $7.25 million (Krejci) while only two players (Krejci and starting goalie Tuukka Rask) count for more than $7 million against the cap in a single season.

The quartet of Marchand, Bergeron, Pastrnak, and McAvoy, for example, takes up less than $25 million in salary cap space per season through the end of the 2021-22 season. That not only keeps a tremendous group of players together, it gives the team the type of salary cap flexibility it needs to build a powerhouse team around them. The Bruins have done exactly that.

Their big challenges this offseason are going to be re-signing UFA defenseman Torey Krug — one of their top blue-liners — and securing a new contract for restricted free agent forward Jake DeBrusk, currently one of their top complementary players. Because they are getting such bargains at the top of their lineup they should have the salary cap space to make it work.

Krug will definitely be the biggest challenge (especially if there is pressure to keep him around the $6.5 million mark that everyone else in their core currently makes) but there is room.

Long-term needs

It might seem like an outrageous thing to say right now given the way the team is built, but it is really tempting to put goaltending as a long-term question.

Right now the duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak is as good as it gets in the NHL. They are both outstanding and capable of being No. 1 starters in the league, while Rask has been one of the league’s elites for most of his career. But there is some uncertainty beyond this season. For one, Halak is one of the Bruins’ biggest unrestricted free agents after this season so there is no guarantee that he returns. But there is also the fact that Rask recently hinted at the possibility of potentially retiring after next season (via the Boston Globe). Still a lot of unknowns there and a situation to keep an eye on in the future.

Beyond that, depth might be the other big long-term issue.

If they are unable to re-sign Krug that would love a pretty massive hole on their blue line, and there is going to come a point where Zdeno Chara is no longer part of this team. That is half of your top-four and would be an awful lot to replace at one time if neither one is there beyond this season.

Long-term strengths

It kind of relates to everything mentioned in the core part, but they have some of the league’s best players at forward signed for multiple seasons at below market contracts.

The trio of Pastrnak-Bergeron-Marchand is one of the best lines in the entire league. Individually, they are all among the top-20 players in the league. Together, they are almost unstoppable.

On the blue line, McAvoy and Carlo are both already outstanding defensemen and are just now starting to hit their prime years in the NHL.

Basically, the Bruins have the most important pieces for sustained success already in place (superstar forwards and young top-pairing defensemen), have them all signed long-term, and they are mostly at points in their career where they should still have several elite seasons ahead of them. The Bruins have been one of the league’s top-four teams for three years in a row now and there is no sign that they are going to drop off from that level anytime soon.

 

MORE:
• Looking at the 2019-20 Boston Bruins
Bruins surprises and disappointments

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Zibanejad stars on Broadway; Blackhawks remain in playoff race

Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers scores his fifth goal of the game in overtime
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Three Stars

1) Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers

The 26-year-old scored five times as the Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals in overtime, 6-5. Zibanejad is the first NHL player to score five goals and the game-winning goal in overtime since Sergei Fedorov on Dec. 26, 1996. The alternate captain joined Don Murdoch and Mark Pavelich as the only players in franchise history to score five times in a single game. Zibanejad established himself as a top-line NHL center last season with a breakout campaign but reached new heights this year with 38 goals and 33 assists. The Blueshirts trail the New York Islanders by two points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race but have played one additional game.

2) Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks

Only four points separate six teams within striking distance of the wild card spots in the Western Conference. DeBrincat scored twice as the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at the United Center Thursday and extended their winning streak to four games. DeBrincat lit the lamp twice in the second period as Chicago pulled away from Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl recorded two assists in his Hart Trophy campaign.

3) Alain Vigneault, Philadelphia Flyers

It takes time for an NHL coach to implement his system in his first year with a new club, but AV has quietly led the Flyers to a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 15 games remaining in the season. Philadelphia has recently climbed the standings and are in position to earn home-ice advantage in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Vigneault helped the Flyers move past an emotional win against the Capitals Wednesday and extend their winning streak to eight games with a 4-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Highlights of the Night

Artemi Panarin delivered a sensational stretch pass as Zibanejad closed out the Capitals with the overtime winner.

Patric Hornqvist converted a spinning backhanded shot to record his first of two goals in the Penguins’ 4-2 win against the Sabres.

Patrick Kane netted his 30th of the season with this sharp-angled shot in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 win against the Oilers.

Brady Tkachuk looked off a defender before firing this short-side snipe as the Senators defeated the Islanders, 4-3.

Ivan Provorov scored for the second straight game as the Flyers tied the Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Torey Krug launched a slap shot in overtime to propel the Bruins to their fourth straight win.

Push for the Playoffs

Stat of the Night

Scores

Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Buffalo Sabres 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Montreal Canadiens 0

Boston Bruins 2, Florida Panthers 1 (OT)

New York Rangers 6. Washington Capitals 5 (OT)

Philadelphia Flyers 4, Carolina Hurricanes 1

Ottawa Senators 4, New York Islanders 3

Nashville Predators 2, Dallas Stars 0

Chicago Blackhawks 4, Edmonton Oilers 3

Los Angeles Kings 1, Toronto Maple Leafs (SO)

Minnesota Wild 3, San Jose Sharks 2


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Bruins stymie Bolts to increase Atlantic Division edge

The Boston Bruins expanded their lead in the Atlantic Division with a 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night.

Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk scored as Boston extended its winning streak to three games. Tuukka Rask made 20 saves and picked up his 25th win of the season.

“Good teams find ways to win and that’s what this year has been all about,” DeBrusk told Pierre McGuire after snapping a 10-game goalless drought.

Mitchell Stephens scored Tampa Bay’s lone goal as the Lightning fell to 1-5 in the six games following a franchise-record 11-game winning streak.

Marchand was a game-time decision and did not participate in the morning skate due to an illness. However, the Bruins alternate captain opened the scoring late in the first period. Defenseman Torey Krug saw Marchand racing to the back post and sent a puck in that direction.

DeBrusk, the likely candidate to replace Marchand on the Bruins’ top line if Marchand couldn’t go, doubled Boston’s advantage midway through the second period. DeBrusk finished a breakaway after beating Carter Verhaeghe in a foot race which led to the scoring opportunity.

The Bruins have a nine-point advantage on the Lightning in the division and are on pace to have home ice advantage through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Bruins get back on track with win over Stars

David Pastrnak’s NHL-leading 46th goal was the difference in the Boston Bruins’ 4-3 victory against the Dallas Stars.

The Bruins snapped a brief two-game skid and improved to 12-3-0 in their previous 15 games with the victory. Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in his 17th win of the season.

Nick Ritchie scored his first goal in his second game since being acquired by Boston at the NHL Trade Deadline earlier this week. Charlie Coyle and Brad Marchand also found back of the net as the Bruins extended their lead in the Atlantic Division to seven points.

John Klingberg, Denis Gurianov and Miro Heiskanen scored for the Stars as their eight-game road point streak came to an end.

Charlie Coyle did what?

Klingberg opened the scoring to give Dallas a one-goal advantage but in the final seconds of the first period, Coyle showed he is ready for spring training.

The Bruins were on the power play due to Andrew Cogliano’s ill-advised slashing penalty. Torey Krug’s slap shot from the point generated a juicy rebound and Coyle swatted the puck out of mid-air to even the score. Coyle deflected the initial rebound up in the air, then batted the puck into the back of the net to show off his incredible hand-eye coordination.


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.