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Bruins Enter Free Agency with Krug Signed, Seidenberg Bought Out

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins — The Bruins will enter the NHL’s Free Agency period on Friday with a key defenseman re-signed for four more years.

While the timing was not a priority, Boston now has Torey Krug in Black & Gold through the 2019-20 season. He would have become a restricted free agent on July 1.

The 25-year-old signed his new contract on Thursday in Boston, at an average annual value of $5.25 million. The cap for the 2016-17 season has been set by the NHL at $73 million.

“We’ve had significant talks for an extended period of time with Torey and his agent Lewis [Gross] — I want to thank them both,” Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney said on a conference call with media Thursday evening. “The timing, I don’t think it was that paramount, but it’s great to be able to come to an agreement. Both parties feel very comfortable and fair in how things were approached.”

“Again, I don’t think the timing was necessary in front of July 1 or after July 1. It was just important to find the common ground and find a fair deal for both sides that we could move forward with.”

Krug has a limited no-trade cause that kicks in on the tail-end of the deal.

“As a young player who is invested in the Boston Bruins organization, he wants to win, he does things the right way every time he comes to the rink, he wants to get better; he’s not satisfied,” said Sweeney. “All the things you want out of a young player to identify with, which is something we also acknowledge, that Torey has really been identified as an emerging part of our core leadership group.”

The defensemen put up career highs in assists (40 - ninth among all NHL D-men) and points (44) in 2015-16, though he was disappointed with his goal scoring output.

“He stepped up and filled, in a lot of ways, above and beyond,” said Sweeney. “And now we can complement around him with Zee and Kevan [Miller] and Adam [McQuaid] and a couple of our younger players, and internally as well as exploring with John-Michael Liles. I think we’ve got the makings of having some balance to our group and Torey’s a big part of that.”

After offseason shoulder surgery, Krug’s on a recovery track that he believes will have him ready for the season.

“I feel great right now. Obviously with everything going on in my life, I’m very excited for what has happened recently,” said Krug. “I’m pushing to be on the ice opening night with my teammates — I think it’s a realistic goal that I’m shooting for. I’m looking forward to it.”

Krug’s deal provides flexibility going forward in regards to structuring the D-corps through free agency and potentially via the trade market.

A few hours after announcing Krug’s contract, the Bruins announced that veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had been bought out of the final two years of his contract, which would have carried a $4 million cap it each of the next two seasons.

The contract will now count $1.166 million against the cap in 2016-17, with the buyout carries additional cap charges of $2.166 million in 2017-18, $1.116 million in 2018-19 and $1.116 million in 2019-20.

“Very, very difficult decision and call to make with Dennis,” said Sweeney. “I want to thank him personally, on behalf of the Boston Bruins organization. He’s a terrific person, first and foremost, and his family was a big part of our organization and the success that we have had in winning a Stanley Cup and getting back to the Finals.”

Seidenberg will no doubt be remembered as an important member of the 2011 Stanley Cup team, and a postseason warrior on the ice alongside Zdeno Chara. The now 34-year-old was acquired by the Bruins at the 2010 trade deadline from Florida (with Matt Bartkowski) in exchange for Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and a second-draft draft pick.

“We just had a shift in philosophy and the commitment to our younger players was a directional change that we want to make,” said Sweeney. “Providing them with an opportunity to emerge, while we continue to explore the possibilities both internally and externally to continue to improve our hockey club.”

The Bruins explored all options before utilizing a buyout on Seidenberg.

“If it had come to any of those situations, we probably would have been able to approach Dennis with his contract situation and no trades and explored those things,” said Sweeney. “This was the opportunity where we pushed it right down to the last minute and this is the decision we made, albeit a very difficult one.”

“It’s really a compliment to Dennis as a person and certainly what he has done and what he can continue to do at the National Hockey League level,” Sweeney said. “But where we are and where we want to get to, we felt that some of the other players internally would help us get there, while we continue to explore.”

“We certainly have some players on the horizon that we would like to see come in and push for an opportunity here.”

Young blueliners with NHL time include Colin Miller and Joe Morrow, whom the Bruins tendered qualifying offers to on Monday.

Other defensemen like Brandon Carlo, Rob O’Gara, Matt Grzelcyk and Chris Casto, among others, will all have their sights set on spots during training camp.

“You don’t trade anything for experience in this League — you have to go through it and at times, ride some ups and downs — all young players will go through it,” said Sweeney. “And we obviously have a great core group of guys that can help, and Claude’s system and our coaching staff’s committed to making us play the right way.”

Internally, the candidates are there. Externally, Sweeney will continue to work the phones.

“For me now, it’s strictly about trading or doing whatever we have to do,” said the GM. “The flexibility piece is there. Now, we just need to make it happen, be it through trade or free agency, we’ll continue to improve.”

“Players on this roster or whatever we have to do — there are certain players that I’ve mentioned before that are a big part of our group in winning and we’re very, very unlikely to move, but discussions will come down with different general managers — they’re going to want, they’re going to have the asks, and I do too,” said Sweeney.

“So you have to try and make it work and you realize that good players are exchanged and it’s not a fun process, but in order to improve your team, you’re going to have to give something up.”

“No Updates” on Loui Eriksson

During the conference call, Sweeney was asked specifically about the status of contract negotiations with Loui Eriksson, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent at noon ET on July 1.

“No updates,” said Sweeney. “You know, will continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit. I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”

No matter what happens, Sweeney and his staff are prepared to vet all opportunities and options to improve the team.

“We’ve been committed to the planning process through this whole phase that we’re in, and we’re going to get through it,” said Sweeney. “We’re going to get through it as a very, very deep organization and make hopefully the calculated moves that we need and continue to get better.”

“Our core players put us in a position to challenge for the Stanley Cup and get into the playoffs, and we were committed to try and improve that. We fell short, we’re right back on the doorstep of continuing to improve our hockey club and exploring every opportunity that we can. The ownership group is very committed to getting us back to winning. That’s the goal.”

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