Countdown to camp: Torey Krug
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Torey Krug.
It’s a tough life being the only bona fide puck-moving defenseman on the Bruins roster these days, and that’s exactly what Torey Krug is until the Black and Gold back end gets an upgrade. Krug played through a bum shoulder for a good portion of last season, and had his best all-around NHL season while topping 20 minutes of ice time per game. It’s no exaggeration to say that Krug was the second-best defenseman on the Bruins last season, and he could possibly be their best D-man this year if they don’t go for an upgrade in the near future.
What Happened Last Year
So Krug’s offensive numbers, particularly his goal-scoring, were down last season, but it was the 24-year-old’s best all-around season he was shouldered a top-4 workload, still topped 40 points on the season and soldiered through a tough torn labrum in his shoulder. The injury could very much explain the career-low four goals for Krug last season, and it would explain why the usually lethal defenseman seemed to be a bit off with his shot from the point. But some of the goal-scoring downturn also may have had to do with Krug paying more attention to the defensive side of his game, and scaling back the risk while playing against the other team’s best offensive players. Either way, Krug proved he could be a very effective top-4 defenseman despite his 5-foot-9, 181-pound size. Krug continues to make strides as a leader, an offense producer and very difficult player to compete against, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue after he signed a four year contract extension this summer.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
Krug is rehabbing from the shoulder surgery this summer, and is trying to ramp things up to be ready for the season opener. But it’s a legitimate question to wonder just how close to 100 percent he’ll be back when the notoriously tough Krug does push back into the lineup. There’s also some concern that Krug needed major shoulder surgery after the only season where he carried a top-4 workload, and that could embolden critics that feel like Krug is better off playing lesser minutes while staying healthy for his five-on-five offense and power play duties. The only other uncertainty is whether Krug can regain his goal-scoring mojo this season once his shoulder is back to full strength, and can begin routinely approaching double-digit totals for goals in a season.
What they're saying
“Torey’s got a very, very unique skill set that’s important to our hockey club. He’s had a very, very productive three years. His role this year and his time on ice, in all situations, increased significantly. He was able to shoulder much, much more responsibility in all parts of the game. 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. 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. I think he’ll help tremendously to help all of our young players that hope to fall in similar fashion with the success that he’s had up to this point. We have a lot of work to do in front of us and Torey’s going to help us get back to where we want to be in trying to win a Stanley Cup.” –Bruins GM Don Sweeney, on Krug’s desire to continue improving after three very good NHL seasons.
Krug took a big step in 2015-16 by playing more minutes, taking on greater responsibility and continuing to take ownership of the Bruins team as one of the young leaders within the core group. Krug is an integral part of Boston’s power play success, and is really the only offensive threat among the Boston D-men crew. The pressure and burden on Krug to produce offense and create plays on the PP is significant, but he’s also the kind of player that can thrive under pressure if paired with a bigger, stronger D-partner. Krug can certainly be exploited in the D-zone on occasion and can take too many risks with the puck while trying to make plays, but he also is one of the few Bruins defenders that can execute a tape-to-tape pass, or confidently break the puck out of the defensive zone with anything approaching consistency. Krug might have been affected negatively a smidge last season by the shoulder injury, and he might experience some difficulty remaining healthy as the games pile up on him. But for now Krug is one of Boston’s best, and should keep getting better with each passing season as he becomes an even-more well-established player.