Krug is focused on playoffs despite uncertain future with Bruins
This is a bittersweet time for Torey Krug.
The Livonia native and the Boston Bruins are finding their stride in the NHL’s Return to Play plan. They are up three-games-to-one in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes, being played in the Eastern Conference Hub of Toronto.
But this could also be Krug’s swan song with the Bruins. His contract expires at the end of the season, when he will be an unrestricted free agent. Krug, 29, would love to stay in Boston, and the Bruins would be happy to have him back. But the numbers may not allow it.
In his nine seasons in Boston — the Michigan State alum signed with the Bruins as an undrafted free agent in March 2012 — Krug has become one of the league’s elite offensive defensemen, particularly on the power play. But Boston’s projected salary cap for this season likely won’t be able to withstand the average annual value Krug’s contract will command.
“One of the biggest things we talk about in this locker room is being aware of the situation in front of you and then accepting that situation,” he told the Boston Herald during the team’s short training camp before the NHL’s round-robin and qualifying series. “For me, it’s no secret that this could potentially be the last run I have of winning a Cup with this group. And, not only that, I get to do it while stuck in a bubble with those guys and get to enjoy their company for 24/7, for as long as we’re there.”
He and the Bruins came heartbreakingly close to winning the Stanley Cup last season, taking the St. Louis Blues to Game 7 of the final before dropping the deciding contest.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it,” said Krug. “Obviously we have to remain focused. We have a job to do. But that’s part of the process that we all enjoy in here. It’s always fun to go to battle with these guys.
“I’m not approaching the games any differently. I’m still willing to sacrifice and do anything for this group as they are for anyone else in this locker room. That’s the fun part of it — you go to battle and then we get to return to a hotel room and reminisce on the game and create better memories … I’m excited about the opportunity, and I know those guys are as well.”
Boston’s challenge grew when it was announced two hours before Game 3 that star goaltender Tuukka Rask had opted out of the remainder of the playoffs because he wanted to be with his family during the pandemic. But veteran backup Jaroslav Halak has backstopped the team to two wins since.
Of course, there has been some talk locally of Krug possibly signing with the Red Wings, who need a puck-moving and offensive-talented defenseman like Krug in the worst way. And he has history with Detroit coach Jeff Blashill, who coached Krug with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League in 2008-09. Krug has gone as far as crediting Blashill with improving his offensive game.
But even the combination of being a Detroit-area native and reuniting with Blashill likely would not be enough for Krug — who is in the prime of his career after scoring nine goals and dishing out 40 assists in 61 games during the shortened regular season — to ultimately sign with the Red Wings, who almost certainly will not be a playoff contender again for at least two seasons.
Krug will become a free agent on Oct. 9 or seven days after the Stanley Cup final ends, whichever comes later.
He and the Bruins can wrap up their series against the Hurricanes in Game 5 at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Wings loan Lindstrom to Swedish team
The Red Wings loaned defenseman Gustav Lindstrom to Almtuna of Allsvenskan in Sweden’s second-highest division.
Lindstrom, 21, split 2019-20 between the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League and Detroit, appearing in 16 games with the Red Wings (one assist, 14 penalty minutes and minus-6).
Lindstrom joins fellow Detroit prospects right wings Filip Zadina (Czech Republic) and defenseman Moritz Seider (Germany) who have been loaned to teams in their native countries for developmental purposes because neither the NHL nor AHL season is scheduled to begin before early December.