Oh, to be a fly on the wall the first day the St. Louis Blues assemble for training camp in preparation of the 2020-21 season. “Hello, Robert Thomas,” Torey Krug might say to one of his new teammates. “I’m Torey Krug. You may remember me as the runaway kamikaze freight train that chased you down and knocked you into the next week in the final a couple of years ago. Or maybe you don’t remember.”
Knowing the way hockey guys are, the two of them have probably already exchanged texts and talked about there being no hard feelings. And knowing hockey guys, they’ll probably be the best of friends because, hey, they’re going to have a long time to forge a bond after Krug signed a seven-year deal with the Blues worth $45.5 million.
One guy to whom Krug will not have to introduce himself is Alex Pietrangelo because that’s essentially the player he is replacing on the Blues. There are elements of the game that Krug will never be able to give the Blues that Pietrangelo did, but he should be able to supply at least enough offense, perhaps even more. Krug made his career on a power play that included some ridiculous talent, but he was also part of that ridiculous talent. The Blues will be fine on the power play with Krug quarterbacking it.
What they won’t be able to get from Krug is the workhorse minutes they got from Pietrangelo, although Krug will try his best. But credit Blues GM Doug Armstrong for realizing that he couldn’t wait much longer to determine whether Pietrangelo would come back to the Blues and signing the sure thing in Krug.
Now, to the money and term. Whenever Krug talked about the possibility of unrestricted free agency, he never made a secret of his desire to cash in on his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There was talk of him leaving the Boston Bruins for a full-term deal worth $7 million or $8 million, but in the end he actually didn’t get any more per season than his old team was offering. (It’s believed the Bruins offered him the same money for only six years.)
In the end, it’s pretty clear that Torey Krug was a casualty of the economic realities facing the NHL. Under normal circumstances, Krug probably would have received $8 million a year, but that’s in an environment where you can count on the salary cap to keep going up and revenues to be strong. There’s a good chance neither of those will be the case for the foreseeable future. Nobody knows what next year is going to look like, but revenues were down this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and could crater next season depending on how the second wave of the disease is managed and how quickly a vaccine can be approved for mass distribution.
So Krug probably actually did well to get $6.5 million a season on a seven-year deal. He took the sure thing with the Blues, a team that promises to be a legitimate playoff contender with a Stanley Cup window that is still wide open. At 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, he doesn’t give the Blues a lot of size on the blueline, but he does give them plenty of offense and snarl. He will be missed in Boston, both for his play on the ice and his presence in the room.