The Boston Bruins plan to start contract negotiations with unrestricted free agent defenders Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, but chief executive Don Sweeney said on Wednesday he was not sure the parties would be able to come to an agreement.
Sweeney has said he will begin negotiations with all of Boston’s pending free agents in the coming weeks. The NHL salary cap remains at $ 81.5 million next season, and the Bruins must also sign the forward from the pending restricted free agents. Jake DeBrusk and defender Matt Grzelcyk, there may not be a lot of room for many new contracts.
Krug said last week he would like to return to the Bruins but is unwilling to sign a one-year contract like he did for 2014-15 and 2015-16 before signing a contract. of four years with an average annual value of $ 5.25 million. 2016 which is about to expire.
“I am very opposed to this,” said the 29-year-old. “I bet on myself. I’ve made shorter term deals, less money my whole career now. This is my time in terms of value at its peak. I have the capacity, I am in a position now where I need to make the most of it. ”
Krug has 49 points (nine goals, 40 assists) in 61 games this season, including 28 on the power play, and has six assists in 13 playoff games. He has 337 points (67 goals, 270 assists) in 523 games with the Bruins.
Chara, 43 the oldest player in the NHL, said last week that he is committed to returning for a 23rd season. He has played the last 14 seasons in Boston, where he has been captain since his arrival in 2006. He has played 1,553 games, 15th in NHL history, and has 656 points (205 goals, 451 assists). He scored 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 68 regular season games and had two assists in 13 playoff games.
“I think I can still play this game and contribute to the team,” Chara said last week. “I want to stay in Boston. I want to be a Boston Bruin. ”
Chara signed one-year contracts in March 2018 and 2019, but did not do so in 2020 due to the suspension from the NHL season on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Chara’s minutes have dwindled as he got older, but he remains important in a stop and kill role.
“I respect Zdeno’s comments,” Sweeney said. “He was an iconic player for us, an important player for us. We will explore our opportunity with him and our players who have UFA or RFA status and we hope to tick the boxes like we have with several other players and continue to move forward and improve our hockey club, and resolve the contractual situation of Zdeno is part of this process. ”
Video: What’s next for the Boston Bruins after the 2020 season
Sweeney said he had no reservations about Tuukka Rask back to the Bruins after the goaltender retired from the Stanley Cup playoffs on August 15, before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Round 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes, to be with his family. Rask still has one season on his contract.
The Bruins beat the Hurricanes in five games, but lost in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
Rask is set to be Boston’s No.1 goalie next season, backed by Jaroslav Halak. Rask was voted the Vezina Trophy finalist as the NHL’s top goaltender after going 26-8-6 with a 2.12 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and five shutouts in 41 games regular season. In four playoff games, he went 1-3-0 with a GAA of 2.57 and save percentage of .904.
“If you look at Tuukka’s actual play… for me that pretty much dictates everything,” Sweeney said. “Obviously, his own personal life, we all have issues that we have to deal with sometimes and he’s had the opportunity in a few instances to make sure he’s feeling good on and off the ice.
“I think any player, manager or anyone involved in sport or in life would respect and should respect that people have to take care of their personal affairs. How he chooses to do it is his own decision and his alone. We are providing resources for all of our players to resolve any issues they may or may not have on or off the ice and provide support accordingly and we are not going to waive that. You have to respect his privacy and give him the latitude to take care of it and in the end it didn’t affect his game. ”