BOSTON — Torey Krug finally arrived to Bruins training camp Monday morning for his first practice after signing a one-year, $1.4 million contract to end his time as a restricted free agent.
With Boston’s difficult salary cap situation — the team currently has under $500,000 of space (with Marc Savard’s contract on LTIR figured in), per CapGeek — agreeing to a long-term extension would have been hard at this time.
With that said, Krug wants to be with the Bruins for a long time.
“I want to be in Boston for as long as I can,” Krug said. “With this group of guys, you see the attitude in here and what it takes to win, and it’s something I want to be a part of for as long as I can. Right now I’m just happy to be back and focused on the job at hand. I got to get prepared for the season and make sure I do my job. I’ve never had an issue trying to prove myself before. I’m going to try to do it again, and I’ll see where it takes me.”
Krug said he hoped a deal would have been reached earlier in the offseason, but he’s happy to be back before the regular season begins Oct. 8 at home against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I think at some point you just got to get in here and make sure you’re prepared for the upcoming season, it got to be that time,” Krug said. “We talked to (Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli) a lot over the last few days and we decided to come to the deal that we reached. We’re very happy to be here. I was very excited to walk in the room and see all the guys, and be back in this great city. I’m very happy with the way things worked out.”
In addition to Krug, restricted free agent forward Reilly Smith also signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is happy to have them in camp, and reiterated that the plan is to keep them here long-term.
“It took a little while with Torey and Reilly, but they’re good young players and good young individuals. Through the process I explained to them that we have some challenges here cap-wise, and it’s important for them to get in and play. We’ll try to bang out extensions as soon as we can because those are young men we want to have in the mix.”
Both players could become restricted free agents again after the 2014-15 season, joining a group of 12 Bruins players (six UFAs, six RFAs) eligible for free agency next summer. Krug and Smith also will have arbitration rights after their current deals expire.
It’s easy to build a case for both as candidates for a long-term deal.
Krug is an immensely talented offensive player who led all rookie blueliners with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) last season, before leading the B’s in scoring (10 points in 12 games) during the playoffs. His ability to quarterback a power play resulted in the B’s ranking third in the league with a 21.7 percent success rate, improving from their 26th-place finish in 2012-13. Krug tied David Krejci for the team lead in power-play points (19).
Smith emerged as a top-six forward next to Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the second line. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (31) and shots (146), while also ranking fifth on the B’s with 14 power-play points. As a good skater and a smart offensive player, Smith is the type of forward teams are looking for as the game trends more and more toward speed, skill and puck possession.
The Bruins have extended players before their contracts expired several times during Chiarelli’s tenure as GM, most recently with Krejci’s six-year extension earlier this month. There’s no guarantee a deal with Smith and Krug will be completed before next summer, but it’s not impossible, either.