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Grade the Players: Matt Grzelcyk looks like he could be a worthy Krug replacement

The hometown defenseman inked a new deal this offseason and is line to become Boston’s next cornerstone on the blue line.

Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Three
Matt Grzelcyk.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Grade: B

Grzelcyk just wrapped up his third full season at the professional level and, above all else, has continued to show he can be a reliable defenseman who’s not afraid to get involved offensively.

The defenseman is going to be heavily looked at as a replacement for Torey Krug, who departed Boston for St. Louis in free agency. Aside from point production, Grzelcyk should be able to do just that on the back end.

If you compare age-26 season for both Krug and Grzelcyk, the former had a decisive edge in points while possession metrics Corsi and Fenwick percentages were about the same. In terms of Corsi, it’s important to note the Gryzelcyk has typically been a third-pair defenseman with significantly less ice time than Krug.

But moving up to potentially pair with Brandon Carlo will undoubtedly see Grzelcyk increase his time on ice, meaning his Corsi will likely increase past his 51.7 percent from 2020.

Back in 2017-18, Grzelcyk has a 54.8 percent Corsi in 66 games, even with Krug’s career average. If Grzelcyk is able to replicate his possession metrics from his rookie season and even exceed, he’ll match Krug’s figures and earn more scoring opportunities. But despite Krug’s high Corsi figures, his plus/minus was a minus-4 for 2019-20 while Grzelcyk was a plus-15 - quite the difference in terms of making things happen on the ice.

Aside from the Krug comparisons, Grzelcyk had a generally positive 2019-20 season. He set a new career high with 17 assists, mostly even strength, and took over 200 shots for the first time in his career.

Looking towards the future, Grzelcyk won’t likely be racking up the points in the way Krug did, but it’s because they are different types of defenders. Though far from a stay-at-home defenseman, Grzelcyk provides more security on the back end and has room to grow when it comes to possession metrics and offensive output. His 2019-20 performance provided a glimpse of his growth over the past three years and he was certainly a sturdy option all year and especially into the playoffs.

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Arguably Grzelcyk’s best game came on November 19 at New Jersey. He scored two goals in this game and quarterbacked the power play in Krug’s absence. The result - a confident-looking Grzelcyk showcasing his stickhandling and playmaking abilities.

On January 7 in a win at Nashville, Grzelcyk showed his ability to win pucks along the boards and keep possession in his own defensive end of the ice, along with his stickhandling prowess.



What’s your grade for Matt Grzelcyk?

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  • 18%
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  • 66%
    (148 votes)
  • 14%
    (32 votes)
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