Bigger issue: unsigned Reilly Smith or Torey Krug?
Reilly Smith (left) and Torey Krug (right)
remain unsigned as the Bruins enter training
camp. (Photo by Brian Babineau)
Last year at this time if I told you Reilly Smith and Torey Krug would be absent from the Bruins training camp…you wouldn’t have really cared—sure, Krug had an electric postseason, but who was this new Smith guy? This year is quite a different story.
As another summer transitions to autumn, the reality for the Boston Bruins and their fans is that two of the top young guns are, in fact, missing from Ristuccia Arena. Torey Krug and Reilly Smith remain unsigned restricted free agents and with the first puck drop looming, what does this mean for the upcoming 2014/2015 season?
Both of these players are undeniably valuable to this organization, but the way the Bruins roster is shaping up, signing Reilly Smith should be the Bruins first priority.
Losing Jarome Iginla and his 61-point season to the Mile-High City during the offseason created an immediate lack of proven right wing options for the Bruins, leaving Eriksson and perhaps the unproven 18-year old, Pastrnak as the only viable top-line options. Now, imagine if the Bruins 51-point right-winger didn’t suit up. Puts the value Smith holds into perspective, doesn’t it?
Smith’s current replacement is Providence’s, Seth Griffith, a talented, young forward who put up nice numbers in 69 games last year in Rhode Island; and while the Bruins’ pipeline has proven to be a wonderful resource, it is often uncertain as to exactly what kind of production you will get once a player makes the move from the Dunk to the Garden.
Smith provides this certainty. He is a smart, patient, two-way player that thrives in the Bruins system, and with one full year under his belt, the expectations rise as the presumed learning curve should dwindle. This ought to translate into more consistent play—that is if he can get into a pair of skates and on the ice.
A lack of right-wingers and a season full of offensive expectations are why the Boston Bruins front office should make signing Smith a top priority, but, this is NOT to say they should ignore Torey Krug’s unsigned status.
It just so happens the Bruins have tremendous depth on the backend. The Bruins formidable, deep, defensive core includes, the Captain, the return of Seidenberg and McQuaid as well as, Boychuk, Hamilton, Miller, Bartkowski and Warsofsky, who is vying for, and perhaps ready for a spot on the Big B’s.
It is for this reason and list of players Krug’s signing isn’t as crucial to the overall success of this team moving forward. Yes, the offensive production from the d-men would suffer, the power play would not be as quick or as lethal, the speedy breakouts would be limited, the reigns of “Kruuuuuugggg” from the 17,565 would be non-existent, yet would anybody be truly concerned with the defensive setup? My guess is no.
So, as the bruins roster currently stands, and for the 2014/2015 season, signing the young right-winger should take precedent over the young defensemen. But hopefully we can see both of them taking line drills in Wilmington soon.
Now, this argument is null and void when discussing the long-term future of the Boston Bruins, in where signing both of these young players is paramount to future success and Stanley Cup hopes.