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UFA Profile: Revisiting Torey Krug as a possible fit

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at possible free-agent fits for the Edmonton Oilers. Today, we have Torey Krug.

It’s looking more and more like Torey Krug will be playing for a different team next season.

After seven seasons as a member of the Boston Bruins in which he put up 337 points in 523 games, Krug is an unrestricted free agent and is looking to cash in.

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Earlier this month, Krug said that negotiations between him and the Bruins were at a standstill. He also said that he wouldn’t consider taking a short-term deal as a result of the league’s COVID-19 financial landscape.

“I’ve taken shorter-term deals, less amount of money my whole career now,” Krug said. “This is my time in terms of my value at its peak.”

The Bruins have roughly $14 million in cap room to work with this fall. Krug is a free agent, Zdeno Chara is also a UFA, and Jake DeBrusk’s entry-level deal is set to expire. It seems Boston has the cap room to sign Krug, but the issue is more related to their cash flow, as owner Jeremy Jacobs reportedly wants to slash payroll and the Bruins are considering entering a bit of a retooling phase.

The Oilers have been linked to Krug in the past, though it’s important to note that this came back when Peter Chiarelli was at the helm. Chiarelli was originally the one who signed Krug as an undrafted free agent out of the NCAA and he reportedly looked into acquiring the offensive defender back in 2018 in a deal that involved Oscar Klefbom and the first-round pick that ended up being used on Evan Bouchard.

Now, the Oilers could have an opportunity to acquire Krug as a free agent without coughing up that exorbitant asking price. Is there a fit here?

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There’s no doubt that Krug is a very good player. As I said earlier, he’s scored 337 points over his NHL career, finding a niche as one of the league’s best power-play specialists.

But Edmonton already boasted the league’s best power-play last season, so going all-in on a defender whose best attribute is the ability to be a quarterback on the man advantage doesn’t make all that much sense for this team right now.

Edmonton’s priority this off-season should be adding players who drive play and produce at even-strength. Of Krug’s 49 points in 2019-20, 28 came on the power-play and 21 came at even strength.

The Oilers already have Oscar Klefbom, who works just fine as Edmonton’s top power-play defender, Darnell Nurse, who sneakily produces a fair amount offensively and can fill-in for Klefbom when necessary, and young defenders like Ethan Bear and Evan Bouchard who have untapped potential to be high-level producers from the blueline.

The only scenario I can think of in which signing Krug would make sense for the Oilers is if the team pulled the trigger on a deal involving Klefbom, perhaps to add a game-changing forward. If Klefbom were moved out, Krug could then theoretically be signed and slipped into the role as the team’s top offensively-oriented defenceman.

That’s obviously a pretty far-fetched situation, but it goes to show just how difficult of a fit Krug would be this off-season. There are free-agent defenders out there who make sense to add to Edmonton’s blueline, but a left-handed, power-play specialist isn’t at the top of the list.

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