Born: April 12, 1991
2012-2013 Numbers: Providence (reg. and playoffs): 70 GP, 13G, 35A, 48 points; Boston (reg. and playoffs): 16 GP, 4G, 3A, 7 points
Torey Krug had one of the most memorable playoff debuts in recent Bruins history, storming onto the scene with four goals in his first five career playoff games before regressing back to earth and recording just a single point in the B's last ten games.
However, the future is bright for the diminutive defenseman, as he brings an element of speed, skating ability, and passing vision that the Bruins' back end sorely lacks. Krug rocketed up the Top 25 rankings and is the highest-ranked defenseman not named Dougie.
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For the most part, the Bruins' blueliners are stay-at-home types, which makes Krug's style of play all the more valuable. He is confident in what he can do with his feet and unafraid of skating the puck out of trouble. He possesses a surprisingly hard shot for such a small guy, and sports arguably the best passing vision among Bruin defensemen (though, admittedly, that's not saying much).
This past spring, Krug got a taste of the best and toughest brand of NHL hockey, so there shouldn't be much adjustment necessary at the start of the regular season. Krug did, however, cool off a bit as the playoffs wore on, so a key for him this year will be consistency: no, he's not expected to score every night, but must keep his feet moving and avoid the giveaways near his own net.
However, it'll be equally important for Krug to, as Claude Julien put it during the playoffs, "play his game" and be unafraid of making mistakes. Krug's value to the Bruins is in his willingness to try the long pass or skate around a forechecker instead of chipping the puck out. Mistakes will happen, and Krug shouldn't change his game to avoid them.
Barring a disastrous training camp, Krug should be with the team on Opening Night, be it in the lineup or in the press box as the seventh defenseman. The departure of Andrew Ference means the B's have just four "set-in-stone" defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, and Johnny Boychuk. The final two spots are up for grabs, with Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowksi the most likely candidates to fill them.
Krug's performance early in the playoffs led to his establishment as a cult hero. Now, can he establish himself as a regular NHL defenseman?