(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith
The Boston Bruins have been plagued with injuries this season, which has forced many players to elevate their games to fill the void. One of those players is defenseman Torey Krug, who since returning from his own injury looks like he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career. Krug missed the first eight games of the season with an ankle injury but has played in every game since returning on October 30.
The defensive unit has been especially impacted by injuries. Zdeno Chara has been out since November 16 with a lower-body injury. Charlie McAvoy missed 15 games from October 20 to December 4 with concussion issues. Kevan Miller has missed chunks of time with both hand and larynx injuries. Krug has really done a great job this season helping to mitigate those absences, and he has been so important to the Bruins remaining in playoff contention despite the numerous injuries.
In the 20 games since Krug returned from his own injury, he has scored two goals and dished out 15 assists for 17 total points. Amongst NHL defensemen who’ve played in at least 20 games this season, he ranks eighth with 0.85 points per game. That would represent the best output of his career, as his previous high for a season in which he played more than one game was last season’s 0.75 points per game.
Krug has led the team with 22:21 average time on ice per game and a 3:57 average time on ice per game during the power-play. He actually leads the team with 10 power-play assists despite missing that big chunk of time at the beginning of the season. His facilitating skills on the power-play have been a huge reason why the unit as a whole ranks sixth in the league with a 26.3% rate on the man-advantage.
There have been a lot of trade rumors surrounding Krug recently as the need for another top-six wing is evident, and Krug has one year left on his $5.25 million deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. His performance demands a pay increase, but there’s only so much money to go around. Guys like McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are restricted free agents after this season, and they’re going to deserve big raises. Salary cap issues certainly make Krug susceptible to a trade, but he is such an asset as an offensive-oriented defenseman.
Krug leads Bruins defensemen in Point Shares this season despite ranking just fourth amongst those defensemen in games played. He makes a big impact on the game in the offensive zone, and his performance has really helped keep the Bruins afloat through all their key injuries. It’s going to be really interesting to see what the defensive unit will look like once everyone gets healthy and all back together. Krug has really shined on the power-play this season, and his production has been huge while the team combats the numerous injuries throughout their lineup. The Bruins are still well within the playoff hunt despite all the injuries they’ve suffered, so there’s much reason for optimism once the lineup gets fully healthy.