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This may have been the Bruins’ worst fear after the trade deadline.
The Boston Bruins currently find themselves in 9th place, out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. To add fuel to the fire, defenseman Dougie Hamilton has been ruled out “indefinitely,” without a veteran player to replace him. Rookie Zach Trotman has been called up to replace his spot on the roster.
Now without their top pairing defenseman, could the Bruins even play themselves back into the playoffs? The red hot Ottawa Senators aren’t slowing down any time soon. The Florida Panthers are still close behind. If the Bruins thought they would catch any breaks, they certainly thought wrong.
Let’s get this out of the way – Dougie Hamilton’s production is not going to be replaced. To be fair, it’s not often you can replace a player that has logged 21:20 minutes of ice time with 42 points to boot, at the end of the season.
Obviously, the Bruins need contribution from every player, especially on the defensive side. Chara will certainly see his minutes go back up. Players like Bartkowski and Trotman (or any other future call ups) need to make sure they aren’t a liability on the ice. McQuaid will be paired with Chara on the right side on the 1st pairing, so he needs to continue to keep his game simple.
So while the entire roster needs to step their game up (as cliché as that sounds), there is one particular player that has the opportunity to really elevate his game to the next level with the opportunity presented.
His name is Torey Krug.
Torey Krug has been an excellent player for most of the year (34 points, +13 rating). He is an asset on the powerplay. He seems to step up in the big games. His game is improving every season, and this season is no different.
Krug’s offensive game is well documented, but his defensive game was always more of a question mark, given his size. When he signed the 1 year extension earlier in March, he stated his desire to wanting to prove he can be a top-four guy in this league:
“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).” - via NESN
The fact is however, not many 5’9” players have gone on to become a top-four defenseman in the NHL. But Torey Krug will get an early start with Dougie Hamilton’s injury.
Why Krug in particular when there are players like McQuaid and Bartkowski available? It’s pretty simple. Those two players offer nothing offensively. Krug has the potential to be a difference maker on both sides of the ice. That’s what a top-four defenseman does or should do – make a positive impact wherever he is on the ice.
With the most important 9 games of the season coming up, the stage is set for Krug to take the spotlight and evolve his game to the next level. Will he seize the opportunity?
It’s going to be a pretty fun 3 weeks.