Torey Krug’s tenure in Boston has come to an end.
After hitting the free-agent market at noon on Friday, the 29-year-old defenseman finally inked the long-term contract he'd been looking for for years — signing a seven-year, $45.5 million contract with the St. Louis Blues.
A move like this seemed inevitable as time wore on — given both the unique circumstances of this revamped offseason and what appeared to be the writing on the wall when it came to Krug’s future in Boston beyond the 2019-20 campaign. While Boston reportedly previously offered its power-play QB a six-year contract with the same average annual value ($6.5 million) as the one he secured in St. Louis, TSN's Pierre LeBrun added that Boston did not offer Krug another contract on Friday.
Speaking back in September, Krug acknowledged that, while his hope would be that he would remain with the club that signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, he was keeping his options open going into this offseason — especially after taking multiple bridge deals during his time with the B's.
"The contact (talk) was very, very few and far between, for whatever reason,” Krug said. “It is what it is. As far as what it looks like, I don’t really know what the future holds in terms of the coming weeks. ... I’ve spent my whole adult life, my whole professional career here in this organization, in this city.
"I’ve done seemingly everything that they’ve asked of me and I’m proud of that. I’ve put all my energy into trying to help this team win games and win championships and we’ve come close twice now and unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for us. I’m a big believer that there is a journey for all of us. Whether it’s here or somewhere else, I’m not too worried about it or anxious about it.”
Krug, who first signed with Boston back in March 2012, tallied 337 points over nine years and seven full seasons up in the NHL ranks — establishing himself as one of the top power-play quarterbacks in the league over the years.
Since the 2015-16 season, Krug’s 256 points ranks sixth overall among all NHL blueliners, with the veteran closing out the 2019-20 campaign with 49 points in 61 games.
Krug’s playmaking ability should come in handy for the Blues, who are likely moving on from captain Alex Pietrangelo — who will likely secure his own significant payday out on the free-agent market.
Of course, the Blues should be fully aware of the production Krug can put forward out on the ice for a club — as the B's defenseman recorded six points (one goal, five assists) over Boston's seven-game series against St. Louis in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Krug delivered one of the highlights of the series in Game 1 when he barreled over Robert Thomas in Game 1 — sans helmet — drawing applause from a packed TD Garden.
While Krug moves on to St. Louis with a contract he rightfully earned for himself, the Bruins are now faced with yet another vacancy to address on their D corps — while also tasked with finding a potential replacement at the top of Boston's lethal power-play unit.
If Boston indeed did not offer Krug anything on Friday when free agency opened, perhaps Boston is keeping tabs on another marquee free agent — given that Krug's departure means that Boston has roughly $16 million in cap space to utilize this fall.
Still, finding a dependable, top-four defenseman to step into the void left by Krug’s departure is much easier said than done — especially when factoring in the sizable impression that the veteran left as the link between Boston's growing pool of younger skaters and their established core.