Torey Krug has become an incredibly important piece of the Bruins’ puzzle, particularly on the power play, where the offensively gifted defenseman is a key cog in Boston’s scoring attack.

As such, the B’s almost certainly would love to keep Krug around for the foreseeable future. But hockey, like other professional sports, is a business, and Boston’s front office soon will have a difficult decision to make with regards to Krug’s long-term future.

Krug is under contract through the 2020 season at $5.25 million annually, a reasonable price for a defenseman of his ilk. The Bruins might need to make a serious financial commitment to keep him in Black and Gold beyond that, though, and there are several factors they must consider before forking over the big bucks — like Krug’s age (he’ll be 29 when his next deal begins), Boston’s other contracts and the club’s alternatives on defense.

The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa broke down Krug’s free agency in a detailed piece published Wednesday. Shinzawa pointed to the contracts given to Ryan Ellis (eight years, $50 million) and Keith Yandle (seven years, $44.45 million) as possible comparables, but also garnered input from someone in a front office position.

“They will be scared of the term just as much as the potential money,” one executive told Shinzawa of the Bruins’ looming decision regarding Krug. “My guess is he will want seven years times $6.25 (million)-ish. Absolutely will want a raise.”

Would the Bruins be comfortable giving Krug a seven-year, $43.75 million contract?

It’s not hard to see why Krug might want a raise. But it’s also not hard to envision the Bruins ultimately walking away from the negotiating table, or perhaps even trading Krug this offseason if they’d prefer to receive compensation for the talented D-man rather than play out the 2019-20 season with him on the roster and risk losing him for nothing in free agency.

Nevertheless, winning a Stanley Cup is the Bruins’ top priority right now. And Boston is well-positioned to make noise in the playoffs — with Krug very much a part of the mix.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images