The 2015-16 season was not a good one for the Boston Bruins defense. There were a few minor bright spots, among them the continued development of Torey Krug. But management acknowledged that the defense needed to be better.
The Bruins feel they made two moves Thursday toward that end. Krug signed a four-year, $21 million contract and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had the final two seasons of his four-year contract bought out; he had a salary-cap charge of $4 million for 2016-17 and 2017-18.
Krug, 25, had an NHL career-high 44 points this season in 81 games. He was tied for 19th in points among defensemen and was ninth with 40 assists.
The new contract, which has an average annual value of $5.25 million, comes after he bet on himself last year, signing a one-year contract worth $3.4 million for 2015-16.
Krug believed he could prove himself worthy of a long-term, big-money contract, and the gamble paid off on Thursday, one day before NHL free agency opens.
And, given his play last season combined with the Bruins' options on defense, Krug should have a full-time top-four spot, likely alongside Adam McQuaid on the Bruins' second pair.
He is a crucial piece of the Bruins' defense, with an ability to get the offense going at even strength and quarterback the power play. He had one goal and 18 assists on the power play last season, and his 19 power-play points were second on the Bruins to Patrice Bergeron's 25. Krug also averaged the second-most ice time on the Bruins at 21:36, behind Zdeno Chara (24:05).
The new contract was some needed good news for Krug; he had surgery on his right shoulder April 21 and is expected to be able to return in late October.
Keeping Krug comes with subtracting Seidenberg, who struggled through an injury-marred season and who will be 35 when the 2016-17 season starts. He had one goal and 11 assists in 61 games, and missed time because of back surgery at the start of the season and a groin injury at the end of it.
But for the Bruins' salary-cap situation, buying out Seidenberg is much more complicated, with reverberations for the next four seasons.
The buyout will cost the Bruins two-thirds of Seidenberg's salary during the next four seasons. He'll account for $1.166 million in cap space in 2016-17, $2.166 million in 2017-18, and $1.116 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20, according to the Bruins.