The outlook on Torey Krug’s situation, from the outside, at least, is much different now than it was just days ago.
With the NHLPA ratifying the new CBA, the salary cap for next season has been locked in at the current figure of $81.5 million, and it’ll stay there until hockey-related revenues get back to normal. That cap number firming up can allow teams to plan, as pre-pandemic the thought was that $81.5 figure would swell, while lately there was worry it would shrink.
So, now the Bruins know what they’re working with as they determine what to offer the star defenseman, who headlines a long list of free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, for Boston this offseason.
Krug took part in the calls with the players’ association over recent weeks, and he has no qualms with the deal, which obviously has major ramifications on his future.
“I was on every single one of those phone calls, and going through the different scenarios it was a good deal for us to get something to protect ourselves in the short-term in order to have long-term success as a league,” Krug said Monday afternoon. “So I thought it was a good deal and I’m happy that both sides ratified it so that we can move on here.
“As far as myself, I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’m just trying to take it day-by-day and worry about the playoffs right now, and I’ll probably have to prepare for free agency and we’ll see what happens there. But in terms of what’s going on with the Bruins and everything else that’s probably a question for someone else.”
Much of the initial speculation has centered around whether that would be an increase in short-term deals this offseason.
For one, there will be a quick turnaround between the start of free agency and the beginning of training camp, meaning it’ll be a real challenge logistically for guys, especially those with families, to move to different teams. But the likely more notable factor is that players can try to take short deals in hopes that they’ll boost their stock (or at least keep it level), and then can cash in on a more lucrative deal when the cap eventually rises.
Krug didn’t think that conjecture applied to him.
“I don’t think (my outlook has) changed, really,” Krug said. “I’m in a very unique situation being such a dynamic player that I’m not too concerned about what’s going to change, and I haven’t thought too much differently about it. I’m kind of just taking the same approach, I’m giving you guys all these answers and these things because I want to be respectful of all your questions today, but as this thing moves on I just want to focus on what we can do here and now and we’ll move on from there. But my situation remains the same and what I’m looking for that remains the same as well. So, kind of conscious of the whole situation, but that’s kind of the scenario that’s playing out right now.”
When Don Sweeney addressed the media Sunday, he indicated that he would be willing to have contract talks with players and their agents if they were comfortable doing so.
And while Krug is amenable to that presently, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be linking up with Sweeney in their Toronto hotel next month to chat about finances.
“I’ve said all along, I’ve been very comfortable. I don’t treat negotiations a lot like other guys do, I don’t really believe in playing the games or this or that or waiting things out,” Krug said. “But once the puck drops and we start playing hockey games I’m just going to focus on that, so anything leading up to that point we’ll see if anything can work out, but once we drop the puck I’m going to focus on that and we’ll have to reevaluate things afterwards. But I’ve always been comfortable with it, nothing changes the way I approach each individual game and each individual shift, so I’ve never done anything out of the ordinary to worry about that, I just let my play do the talking.”
The NHL’s looming return to games is precarious for players in Krug’s position.
They obviously have a desire to play in hopes of boosting their market to the fullest extent, but this is such a unique circumstance. They’ve had so much time off without access to ice, and after a comparatively brief ramp-up period, they’re going to go right into huge games. Injury risk always exists, but many are concerned that this situation will elevate that threat.
The blueliner is acutely aware of that risk.
“Being a free agent that goes into this situation, it’s definitely risky. I’d be lying to you if I said it’s not,” Krug said. “Having three, four months off and then going right into the most intense hockey you could possibly play at any level, there’s always risk for injury no matter when you play, but certainly in this moment you don’t have the normal training that you do, the preparation, all the work to make sure that your body feels good and you can go in there without any worries. But we’ll have a bit of a ramp-up period, and any time you get a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup I think you’d take it every time you get it.”
Krug’s at a different point in his life now than in 2016 when he signed the four-year, $21 million deal he currently is playing on. He’s married and has a daughter that just turned one.
So, when he makes the call on his next stop, there are myriad factors to consider, many that extend just beyond himself.
“There’s a lot of things that go into it,” Krug said. “Any time you’re winning and you’re doing your job well, that makes everything else kind of line up in life. For me, right now family is the No. 1 thing, and my priorities have changed quite a bit having to be a husband and then be a father, it’s quite a different change in where your priorities lie. So you have to think about schools, you have to think about quality of life, living in certain climates, things like that. These are all something that you take into consideration, but we’ll see.
“I think at the end of the day, competing and being part of a core leadership group has all been important to me, and trying to build something and be a part of something special, you always want to do that. So there’s a lot of things that go into it and we’ll see, but right now I’m just focused on this group right here and now and hopefully helping us win a championship and I’ll have to prepare for whatever’s to come after that.”
Free agency now will open Oct. 9, or seven days after the completion of the Stanley Cup Final.