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:
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.
Read more from Andy Hwang by clicking here. Find him on Twitter on @andyhwang05 and follow @BruinsLife for all Bruins news and updates.