Defenseman Torey Krug went straight from Michigan State to Boston at the end of last season, playing a pair of games for the Bruins. But while that experience may have given him a little insight into what it takes to compete at that level and some added confidence about his ability to do it, there was no air of entitlement as Krug went through the camp drills with the rest of the club's prospects.
"It is good, now my bar kind of resets with the team," Krug said after the camp wrapped up on Monday. "I have to go into [training] camp, make a good impression and try to make the team. It's good for me because it kind of keeps me down to earth. I have to understand that I'm fighting for a job now. It's good to keep me down where I should be and not living the high life where I know I'm not at yet."
Krug, 21, does believe he's ready to play in Boston this season, but he doesn't expect that an NHL job will simply be handed to him.
"I feel very confident," Krug said. "My job is to make the team. I know that there's better hockey players out there in the world than me, but I'm humble and I'm going to do my job to the best of my abilities and come in here and try to make an impression on the management."
Krug already did that last spring. He made his NHL debut at the TD Garden against Pittsburgh on April 3, playing 18:18 with two shots and a blocked shot. Two nights later in Ottawa, he collected his first NHL point with an assist on a Milan Lucic goal and added three blocks in Boston's 3-1 win.
"I thought Torey handled it very well," Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney said. "I thought he stepped into late-season games when the pace is usually pretty high and then playing the Pittsburgh Penguins your first time out is probably not the easiest thing in the world to do, and then going in on the road and playing out in Ottawa was another difficult task as those games were very meaningful for Ottawa at that particular time, as they were for us."
"We've obviously watched Torey for a long time and felt that he would be able to handle that and now the bar sort of resets for him," Sweeney added. "He's made his impression, he did very well, and now he's got to go out and push someone out of the way and earn that spot and I think he's excited to try and do that."
Krug will have a chance to earn a spot on Boston's blue line. While it's possible the Bruins will still sign another veteran defenseman, right now they have five returning regulars in Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid. Dougie Hamilton is expected to make the leap to the NHL to round out the top six, but there remains an opening for the club's seventh defenseman.
Krug has a shot to fill that vacancy, and he recognized the benefits of the development in helping him to prepare for that opportunity.
"It was nice, it was another week of pro hockey experience, another week you got to live the life of a pro hockey player," said Krug, a mobile but undersized blueliner at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. "I didn't have too much experience with that, so this definitely helped with the day-to-day living and how to treat your body. It was a valuable experience this week."
Even having spent a few weeks in Boston last spring, Krug recognized that he still has a lot to learn about the transition to the pro game after spending the past three seasons at Michigan State, putting up 12-22-34 totals in 38 games last year.
"Just how to be a pro," Krug said of what he took away from the development camp. "I was in college the last three years, kind of pampered a little bit. I was lucky to go where I did at Michigan State, the best college in the country. Everything was handed to me, so this was another week of being a pro and you have to take that experience for what it's worth and come into September ready to go."
Thanks to his taste of NHL life last year and a refresher course at this summer's development camp, Krug should be more ready than most.