This summer, the Boston Bruins were constrained by salary cap problems that not only prevented them from going after big-name free agents, but also would make it difficult to retain their own players. They were long expected to have to make a trade to get all their players under the cap. Some how, some way, thy have found a way to sign their two remaining restricted free agents while remaining cap compliant.
On Monday, the Bruins announced that they had signed defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith to one-year contracts. The matching deals will pay the players $1.4 million apiece. Both deals are below market value for the players.
“It’s nice to have them back, I think everybody agrees on that, and now it’s a matter of getting them in game shape,” said Bruins Head Coach, Claude Julien. “They’ve been skating, they showed up and actually look in real good shape, but playing and battling are two different things, so they’ve got a little less time than others have to get up to speed with everybody.”
The 23-year-old Krug played his first full season in the NHL last year after cementing his place in the Bruins lineup during the 2012-2013 postseason. Last season, Krug finished second on the team in scoring for a defenseman with 14 goals and 40 points in 79 games. Undrafted, Krug originally signed with the Bruins out of college in March of 2012.
“I think at some point, you’ve just got to get in here and make sure you’re prepared for the upcoming season, and it got to be that time,” said Krug. “And we talked to [Bruins General Manager] Pete [Chiarelli] a lot over the past few days and we decided to come to the deal that we reached.”
The 23-year-old Smith was acquired by the Bruins prior to last season in the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. Playing in all 82 games for the B’s last season, he set career highs with 20 goals and 51 points. Like Krug, Smith is happy to be back with the Bruins, though he would have preferred a long-term contract.
“You’re always trying to look for other options and you want to stay with this team as long as you can,” said Smith. “It’s a great group of guys, great organization, and the cap’s also a huge factor, so when that comes into play, you kind of just have to accept it and try and move on from it.”
After the deals, the Bruins currently sit $3,609,143 over the salary cap limit, but will receive about $4 million in cap relief when they place forward Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve. Though no longer necessary, a trade may still be needed to give the team a little more wiggle room.
“You know, there’s still housekeeping to do from a numbers perspective, so yeah, it’s good [to not have to make a move],” said Chiarelli. “This is a business and you’ve got to put a roster in place and you’ve got to put a winning roster in place and it’s still a challenge that we have, and we always have, and it will remain a challenge.”
Though they are signed for the season, Chiarelli’s work in regards to Krug and Smith may not be done, as he would still like to lock up the players long-term.
“We want to sign them to extensions as soon as we can, because those are two young men that we want to have in the mix,” said Chiarelli.
The Bruins also released veteran forward Ville Lieno from his professional tryout on Monday, and reassigned forward Chris Breen to the training camp of the AHL’s Providence Bruins.