Some of the most fascinating trades to discuss are the ones that never happened. For the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins, one such trade could have changed the complexion of both team’s defensive units. On draft day last June, ex-GM Peter Chiarelli was hot after Boston’s Torey Krug, dangling a package that sources indicate included both Oscar Klefbom and the 10th overall pick.
Once Evan Bouchard began to fall and Edmonton knew they would be getting their guy, Chiarelli elected to keep the powder dry. What would Krug have looked like in Edmonton? What other pieces were coming back from Boston? How would both teams look today? Would Boston still be playing for a Stanley Cup right now?
It’s interesting to ponder, and it could be revisited this off-season.
Why Is He Out There?:
The Bruins won’t exactly be in cap hell this coming off-season, but they do have decisions to make. Both Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are pending RFA’s that will command significant raises on their entry-level deals, while Danton Heinen will also need to be taken care of. On top of that, the Bruins are expected to attempt to re-sign Marcus Johansson this summer, and that could prove costly.
Krug is owed $5,250,000 next season before becoming a UFA in July of 2020. He’s going to get a raise when he hits free agency, and that might be too much for Boston to handle. After a terrific playoff, would Don Sweeney look to the future and deal Krug at his highest value? He’s got cover in the system if that’s the avenue he elects to explore.
What Does He Do Well?:
I question if Krug would endear himself to the Edmonton fanbase. Not because he’s a bad player, quite the opposite actually, but because he’s not typically a rough-and-tough defender. Krug’s game is a skilled game that includes speed, mobility, skill, the ability to run a powerplay and exceptional passing skills.
I’ve said it about a few players during this series, but Krug really is a perfect fit for the modern game. He can transition the puck with a strong first pass, but also has the confidence to carry the puck up ice if need be. His offensive instincts are beyond strong, and he possesses a bomb of a shot.
There are warts to Krug’s game. He’s not always physical and he tends to sell out for offense. There have been plenty of occasions when Bruin fans and media members want him shipped out because of positional errors or defensive mistakes that appear lazy. He more than makes up for it with his offensive ability, however.
Krug posted 53 points in 64 games for Boston this season, lightning the lamp six times in the regular season. His possession numbers (per hockey-reference) were strong as well. Krug posted a 54.9% Corsi For, generally sending the puck in the right direction and outperforming his teammates in this area (+3.5%). In fact, it was the sixth straight season that Krug had a positive Corsi Rel.
Here’s a look at his scouting report via The Sports Forecaster:
Where Should He Play / Where Will He Play?:
Krug is a top-four defender in the NHL who should be running a team’s top powerplay. In Edmonton, I’d argue he’d be the club’s second best left-shot defender behind only Klefbom. I have Krug slightly ahead of Darnell Nurse, but they are vastly different players.
Krug would instantly be Edmonton’s top powerplay weapon from the point and would be their top puck moving defender instantly.
What Will He Cost?:
If the Oilers are willing to deal Klefbom, then I think the Bruins would be willing to listen. There would need to be other pieces involved, but the Bruins do like Oscar quite a bit. Boston has also shown strong interest in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over the years, but Charlie Coyle appears to have filled their center depth chart behind Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. RNH likely isn’t on Boston’s wish-list anymore.
If Krug comes to Edmonton, it is likely going to involve Klefbom going the other way.
With free agency on the horizon, the Bruins very well could do the smart thing and sell Krug at his highest value this summer. After all, Krug has posted 16 points in 21 playoff games this spring and has been arguably Boston’s most consistent skater.
I have a lot of time for Krug, and think he’d be a great fit for the uptempo game Edmonton wants to play. His transitions skills would only help Edmonton’s handful of elite forwards, and I think he’d thrive on a powerplay with Connor McDavid.
Unfortunately, the price is going to include Klefbom, and unless you are getting another piece back I wouldn’t do it. Perhaps I overrate Klefbom, but I think he’s a better player than Krug at this stage. If Edmonton could get Krug and, say, Danton Heinen for Klefbom? Then we could talk and make a legit case that the club is better.
The Oil have been hot for Krug for years. Is summer ’19 finally the one where they land their target?