The Boston Bruins did not make the huge splash that some expected on the first weekend of free agency, but the team was still very active. Gone is Torey Krug, to the St. Louis Blues on a 7 year $45.5 million dollar deal ($6.5M AAV) which has become a bit of a head scratcher for fans of the black and gold. It was thought that the Bruins had offered Krug the exact same deal only over 6 years, and it would seem puzzling for him to leave a team and city he loves over a single year (albeit an extra $6.5 million dollars). Krug later revealed that the offer was not on the table, Saying:
“It was pulled form me. I didn’t have an offer. When they offered me a year ago and then it’s gone, I don’t know what I am expected to do. Just being blunt and being honest with you.“
He further added, “There was just no communication. Nothing happened. Once the opportunity presented itself to be a Blue, I had to take the chance and jump on it.” Krug can’t be blamed for accepting such a lucrative offer in this flat cap climate, but going to the Blues, who just a season ago beat the Bruins in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, leaves a bad taste. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney claims that they just couldn’t come to a deal on the term of the contract. Was there an offer? Was their not an offer? Who knows. The fact is the Bruins were prepared to move on from Krug, and what their plan is post-Krug remains to be seen. Boston’s defense and current cap space looks like this as of Monday, October 12th (Happy Thanksgiving Canada!)
The loss of Krug leaves a bit of a hole on the left side of the defense with Matt Grzelcyk yet to be signed and Chara’s future still unclear. If the Bruins do sign both, which appears likely, it still leaves a huge gap in defensive scoring that will need to be filled either though free agency, or with the likes of McAvoy or Grzelcyk jumping onto the top powerplay unit. Are the Bruins prepared to go into next season with this group? It certainly does not look too bad, especially if Miller and Moore as veterans can contribute effectively, but that is a big if. Can’t imagine they are done here.
On the flip side, Boston was able to make an incredible signing, picking up RW Craig Smith on a 3 year $9.3M ($3.1M AAV) contract. The 31 years old has 9 years of NHL experience, all with the Nashville Predators, and has scored 20+ goals in 5 of the last 7 seasons and had 18 goals in 69 games in 2020. He is a high a volume shooter and a consistent plus +/- player (an excellent +87 in the last 7 seasons). High energy, defensively responsible and putting pucks on net are all things the Bruins are looking for on their secondary lines. Even more important may be the fact that Smith scores almost all his goals at 5 v. 5, an area Boston has struggled over the last few season.
On the current roster, Smith seems to slot in nicely as a middle 6 forward who will get time beside both David Krejci and Charlie Coyle (depending on chemistry) as well as on the 2nd unit PP. He instantly becomes the best winger not named Marchand or Pastrnak. The NHL rumour mill also has Boston looking at free agent wingers, Tyler Toffoli, Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman, which would completely solidify the top 3 lines and make them one of the deepest groups in the East as everyone tries to compete with the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Here’s hoping.
All and all a very active first couple days for the Sweeney and Co. and we have a bit more clarity on what the 2020/2021 season may look like for the Bruins.