Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug has one more year left on a deal that will pay him $5.25 million next season. Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Boston Bruins left NHL draft headquarters with a handful of teenagers to feed into the pipeline, nothing more or less. Now it’s on to the heavy lifting for General Manager Don Sweeney.

His most important business of the summer (and fall perhaps?) is to get restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen under contract. But there is an even bigger cloud hanging over the Bruins – the contract status of defenseman Torey Krug.

Krug has one more year left on his deal that will pay him $5.25 million and then he will be an unrestricted free agent. He will be making a lot more than that a little more than a year from now.

In a highly unscientific poll, we asked a handful of hockey people here, all things being equal, whom would you rather have, Torey Krug or P.K. Subban? Four went with Krug and a fifth, after some hemming and hawing, went with Subban. Subban, traded again Saturday from Nashville to New Jersey essentially for cap space, makes $9 million a year. Subban has averaged .632 points per game over his career while Krug is a tick below at .623. Krug and his representation would be well within their rights to start there in negotiations at $9 million.

Sweeney has done a good job in getting Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak to take team-friendly deals, but thus far in his career Krug’s natural competitiveness has extended to the negotiating table. Getting every penny he’s worth is a player’s prerogative, including the undrafted Krug’s.

There may be an upsurge of Krug’s stock, what with Krug’s excellent playoff run fresh in people’s minds. And two full months of the most intense hockey you can find is not a small sample size. In that time, Krug demonstrated that he can be who he always said he could, a legitimate top four defenseman with extraordinary offensive and power-play skills. To these eyes, he displayed some defensive capabilities that he hadn’t prior to the 2019 Cup run, and did it for a long enough period of time to suggest it was no fluke.

Beyond being a terrific player, Krug is everything the Bruins want in terms of leadership, competitiveness and gumption.

But with all the draft capital they’ve spent over the past four years on left-handed defensemen in Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril, with what they’ll have to invest on the right side with McAvoy and Carlo, and with a gaping hole in the top six right wing, can they afford to keep Krug? It would seem a trade might be prudent.

On the other hand, to move Krug now would take a major leap of faith. Is Vaakanainen ready to take over the first power-play unit with just 32 North American games under his belt? Or would Lauzon be the guy to come up from Providence and McAvoy take over the power play from the right side? There’s no evidence that either would be as proficient as Krug.

It would help the Bruins’ cause if they could unload the last two years of the David Backes contract. Both Sweeney and Coach Bruce Cassidy said they envision Backes remaining with the Bruins and competing for a fourth line spot. But even with Backes’ estimable leadership – and don’t underestimate what Backes contributed to rebuilding this team into a Stanley Cup contender – that’s not quite enough for $6 million a year for the next two years.

But we found out on Saturday just how painful ridding themselves of that contract would be. The Maple Leafs had to include a first round draft pick in 2020 (albeit a top-10 protected one) to Carolina so that the Hurricanes would take the last year of Patrick Marleau’s deal that has an average annual value of $6 million. The Bruins would be looking for someone to take two years of the Backes deal. Good luck with that. We all knew the last couple of years of the deal would be troublesome with Backes’ age and the hard miles he’s driven, but now that those years are here they could be extra painful. (For what it’s worth, the Bruins did not ask Carolina, a floor team, if they were interested in taking Backes’ contract, according to a source.)

If it were up to this observer, Krug’s performance in the playoffs against some very heavy teams is enough for me to sign him, one way or another. But that’s easier said than done. Giving up first round picks and prospects just to free up cap space is a bitter pill GMs understandably would not like to swallow.

Figuring out how much his restricted free agents will cost should help Sweeney navigate this issue, but this has to be the most difficult decision facing Sweeney since his first month on the job, when he began this rebuild-on-the-fly by trading Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic.

Come to think of it, in hindsight those decisions look easy compared to the Krug dilemma.

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