Monday evening’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning marked only the 19th time Torey Krug stepped onto an NHL ice surface as a member of the Boston Bruins during the regular season, and the 34th game overall in his young career. We got our first look at Krug during the second round of last year’s playoffs, when he and Matt Bartkowski were called up from the Bruins AHL affiliate in Providence after Boston’s back-end suffered two huge blows in the form of injuries to Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference. Since then, Krug has earned a full-time roster spot after the B’s lost Ference to free agency, and has looked impressive thus far. The Livonia, Michigan native has 6 goals and 10 points through the first 16 games of the season, as well as posting a +3 rating. What’s more impressive is his defensive play, as the rookie defenseman hasn’t looked out of place in his own zone, as so many young D-men often do. But should we buy in to Krug as a future top-tier defenseman?
Torey Krug is a puck-moving defenseman. While that’s great, the Bruins haven’t had the best luck over the past few seasons with their puck-moving defensemen. Dennis Wideman had early success as a Boston Bruin when he came over from the Panthers in 06-07 season. Wideman put up two straight 13 goal seasons, the latter of these coupled with 50 points, but has since left Boston and found little success in Washington and Calgary. Tomas Kaberle is another former Bruin who was brought in during the 10-11 season to add some offense and depth to Boston’s back-end. The Bruins didn’t get much out of Kaberle, while the former Maple Leaf got his name on the Stanley Cup before signing with Carolina. Matt Hunwick is yet another example of a young puck-moving defenseman who came up in the Bruins organization and looked impressive in his rookie year before two sub-par seasons in Bean town saw him packing his bags to sign with the Colorado Avalanche.
Despite the Bruins previous flops with young offensive-minded defenders, I think it is safe to buy in to Torey Krug and his hot start. Putting up 4 goals and 6 points in 15 playoff games last year is nothing to ignore, and his offensive production this year, as well as the creativity he has shown has clearly carried over from his stint in the postseason. Tyler Meyers is a defenseman who was very impressive in his rookie season, winning the Calder trophy, and even drawing comparisons to Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Meyers has been nothing but disappointing in Buffalo, so don’t be so quick to hail Krug as the next Bobby Orr, but also don’t toss him into the pile of busts the Bruins have had on their defense. Dennis Potvin once said that it takes about 300 games for a defenseman to feel completely comfortable in the NHL. Maybe Krug is just ahead of the pack having played so little in the big league, or maybe the best has yet to come from the former Spartans captain.