Detroit Red Wings need to avoid ‘breaking the bank’ to sign Torey Krug

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Red Wings should refrain from breaking the bank to sign free agent defenseman Torey Krug.

It’s probably not what many Detroit Red Wings fans want to hear, but the organization should proceed with caution this offseason.  General manager Steve Yzerman is sitting pretty entering the offseason and will find plenty of opportunities to better this Red Wings roster.

The Detroit Red Wings will have plenty of money to spend if they so choose, but with the NHL salary cap set to remain flat, it leaves a plethora of organizations tight against the cap.  Yzerman will be able to add draft capital as an incentive to take on an expiring bad deal or two from a playoff team looking to clear space to land a player they feel can put them over the top in the short-term.

It’s a Red Wings roster that is not ready to compete yet; it’s a rebuilding team that is trying to replenish their farm system after Ken Holland left the cupboards bare, limping the organization to continuous playoff appearances that ended with a string of first-round exits.

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This organization is coming off of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, finishing the season with the worst point percentage of all-time in the salary cap era.  The Detroit Red Wings finished the year with an embarrassing 39 points.  The struggling Red Wings compiled 17 wins to 49 losses and five overtime losses.  It’s an organization that finished 2020 with the fewest goals scored (145), and the most goals allowed (267) across the league.

If that isn’t embarrassing enough, the Red Wings also produced the leagues-worst SRS (Goal Differential considering Strength of Schedule Rating) where the number 0 is deemed to be average.  The 2020 Red Wings produced a -1.70 rating.

Entering the free agency period tends to be exciting, and the Red Wings are used to being ‘one player away’ for so many years, so it’s challenging to be patient.  The Wings have finally shed some salary-cap space after seeing Niklas Kronwall retire a year ago, along with trading away Mike Green, seeing Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley, Johan Franzen, and Jimmy Howard’s deals all expire.

Everything seems to be shaping up perfectly for the Detroit Red Wings to go out and land a player like Torey Krug.  Krug was born in Livonia, Michigan; he played his college hockey at Michigan State; it seems like a perfect fit, right?  Let’s pump the break a little.

Krug is a dynamic player.  He’s recorded 212 points over his last 282 games.  He’s earned himself a stellar Corsi For Percentage of 55% over his nine-year career but don’t forget he’s played on a constant Stanley Cup competitor.

He’s a phenomenal talent but proceed with caution.

Here’s the thing;

Krug signed with the Bruins as an undrafted rookie back in 2012.  He’s always played second-fiddle to the likes of Zdeno Chara and recently Charlie McAvoy.  With a Stanley Cup caliber Bruins team, Krug’s been the perfect second-pairing defender.  He’d walk into the Red Wings locker room and immediately be the teams’ top defender.  Instead of primarily playing against the opponent’s second line, he’d be asked to shadow the top line each night.

I’m not saying he couldn’t do it, but he’d be asked to play north of 24 minutes per night, about four more minutes than he’s used to playing.  That is a massive increase in ice-time at the NHL level.  He’d be paired with the surging Filip Hronek in Detroit, and the pair would provide the team with a true top pairing, but will that translate to victories? To think a player like Krug will automatically make the Red Wings competitive again is comical.

Detroit is not just a defenceman away from winning, so how can someone justify spending upwards of $8-million per season on Krug?  That is what it is expected to take to get Krug’s services.  He’s coming off of a deal that averages $5.25 million per season and made it known he has no interest in taking a hometown discount.  He’s taken ‘less’ for quite some time to keep the band together in Boston, but now he’s looking to cash-in.

Krug turns 30 in 2021; I feel that the Detroit Red Wings are four-to-five years away from being serious competitors again.  If Krug is indeed seeking a five-year deal, he will be 35 years old, making $8 million per season.  How did that work with Mike Green?

Isn’t that the exact type of contract that Ken Holland regularly rushed to get done for years?  I don’t expect Yzerman will hurry to get a lucrative deal like this done, knowing the team is not ready to win.

Yzerman will continue to be patient, continue to build within, and then make a splash when the team is relevant again.  There is no need to spend a fortune on a soon-to-be 30-year old player.  If Detroit remains frugal until the next batch of ugly contracts expire, the Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen, Danny DeKeyser, and Darren Helm deals. The organization should have plenty of young talent still on team-friendly agreements and will have loads of money to spend on the open market.

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Expect the Detroit Red Wings to be active this offseason on the trade front and ‘roster filling’ free agents, tier-two free agents, and players Yzerman hopes to flip for draft capital at the trade deadline.