BOSTON — Torey Krug is one of the best young offensive defensemen in the NHL, and the Bruins made sure he’ll wear the Black and Gold for at least another season by signing him to a one-year contract extension with a salary cap hit of $3.4 million Friday.
The 23-year-old blueliner ranks second on the Bruins in scoring among defensemen with 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) and second on the entire team with 11 power-play points. When you compare Krug to the entire league among defensemen ages 18 to 23 (minimum 500 minutes played), it’s easy to see why he has a bright future.
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His HERO chart, via Own the Puck, shows that Krug performs at the level of a second-pairing defenseman despite receiving the ice time of a third-pairing player during 5-on-5 play. It should be noted that Krug is often sheltered, as evidenced by his offensive zone start percentage of 60.37 at even strength, but his production still is impressive nonetheless.
The area of Krug’s game that’s always needed improvement has been defense. He’s made good strides this season, but it’s still a work in progress, as is the case with most young defensemen.
“Torey’s minutes have gone up this year,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “With Torey, it’s about defending at a higher level, because we know he can really move pucks and put up points.
“Torey wants to prove that he can play those higher-end minutes, and I think he can. This gives a good platform for it. He shows what he can do this year and next year, and then you see where he fits as far as a top-four. When you look at minutes from the outside, you’d say he’s not a top-four guy, but he’s close.”
One of the next steps for Krug is playing against tougher competition with more defensive zone starts. He’s taken on slightly tougher defensive assignments this season, and earning the trust of the coaching staff to be put in more of those positions should be one of his goals moving forward.
“We’re gaining more confidence in him playing against certain lines of other teams’, so he’s getting better as well,” B’s head coach Claude Julien said.
Similar to Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask when he signed a one-year contract for the 2012-13 season and then signed a lengthy extension the following summer, Krug is motivated to prove he’s an integral part of this team.
“I want to prove myself as a top-four guy,” Krug said. “My whole career I’ve been betting on myself, so it’s another opportunity to do that. I just want to expand my role, like any player would. They want to play more, they want to be a bigger part of the team. That’s the reasoning behind the one-year (deal).”
This contract works for both sides. The Bruins are able to wait another season before determining if Krug is worth top-four money, and the player receives a well-deserved raise with the opportunity for an even greater one in the near future.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images