Torey Krug: The Top 2 Defenseman the Bruins Deserve

( Above Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports )

By: Spencer Fascetta                                          Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

Much has been made of the Bruins’ depth when it comes to defensive prospects. Fans are constantly on the lookout for Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen, not to mention less heralded prospects such as Matt Grzelcyk and Emil Johansson. Charlie McAvoy already looks like a Calder Trophy finalist, and Brandon Carlo has been a fantastic surprise since arriving early last season. But it is easy to overlook, and even criticize, the play of easily the Bruins’ best defenseman: Torey Krug.

Not only is Torey Krug the Bruins’ BEST defenseman, he actually is one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL. **HOT TAKE ALERT** Yes, I’m aware. However, I have compiled some data to describe to you exactly what I mean. Krug is demonstrably a Top 5 defenseman in the league in terms of transitional ability, or the ability to move the puck from his own zone to the offensive zone effectively and efficiently on a consistent basis, and we all are well aware of his offensive capabilities.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

As you can see, Krug is clearly an elite offensive defenseman. It may come as a surprise, however, that he is actually a better transitional defenseman per Andrew Berkshire’s metrics than an offensive defenseman. What is even MORE surprising, is that he is actually the 5th best transitional defenseman by these metrics. All four of the defensemen listed ahead of Krug are former Norris Trophy winners, and are consistently considered to be the crème de la crème of NHL defensemen. The major difference between Krug and them appears to be circumstance, pedigree, and size.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Krug is demonstrably better offensively than Keith, but the Blackhawks’ rearguard is better in his own end.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Again, Doughty is much better than Krug in his own zone and transitionally, but Krug has an absurd advantage offensively.

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Caption: Graphic courtesy of Andrew Berkshire, Sportsnet, and SportLogiq

Subban and Karlsson are both significantly better than Krug in all three areas of focus. As they are considered the two best defensemen in the league, this is relatively expected.

Well, great. Krug looks good by one guy’s metric. Granted, he is one of the most respected names in hockey analytics, but what does that matter? Well, let’s compare him to each of them.

Caption: Hero Chart via

Although Doughty plays significantly more than Krug, Krug is actually a better shot generator on the back end and is a better producer of primary assists. Granted, Doughty is the superior shot suppressor, but that is not Krug’s game.

Caption: Hero Chart via

Subban is a better goal scorer than Krug, but Krug is the superior shot generator and primary assist generator. Most importantly, however, is that they are both similar in terms of shot suppression.


Caption: Hero Chart via

Erik Karlsson is far and away the best defenseman in the game. That is unquestionable. He obviously plays more than Krug and is a significantly better goal scorer. The two are quite similar in terms of shot generation and primary assists, but Krug is actually a BETTER shot suppressor.

Caption: Hero Chart via

Finally, the wily veteran of the group only scores better than Krug in terms of shot suppression. Krug is better in terms of goal scoring, primary assist scoring, and shot generation, and is significantly better than Keith in the latter two.

Well, I could have cherry-picked those four to compare to Krug in order to portray him in a favorable light. So, let’s compare him to a few archetypes.

Caption: Hero Chart via

Krug continues to play lower minutes than your typical #1 defenseman, but is better than a typical #1 defenseman in all metrics, save for shot suppression, where he compares quite similarly.

Caption: Hero Chart via

When compared to a typical #2 defenseman, Krug is far and away a better player, measuring almost dominant regarding shot generation and primary assists.

Caption: Hero Chart via

Krug and a typical 2nd Pairing Defenseman? Not even close.

So, according to everything presented above, Torey Krug is an elite, #1 defenseman in today’s NHL. So, why is he so underrated? Well, a large portion of his problem stems from his situation. Krug has had to drag his defensive partner around with him for the majority of his career. As you can see below, he has not been gifted with a stellar situation to maximize his abilities and has been paired with some of the least productive and effective defenseman the Bruins have rostered since he broke into the league in 2012-13. The first graphic compares the relative expected goals for percentage for each defenseman that has suited up for at least 1000 minutes in the black and gold in Krug’s career to the player’s relative CorsiFor Percentage, which is the percentage of time the player had a positive impact on puck possession while he was on the ice relative to the other players around him.

I have highlighted Krug and the best/worst of the group. The size of the bubble for each player corresponds to the percent of the time on ice each player played relative to the total minutes he was dressed for. Based on that, you can see that players like Colin Miller (surprise, surprise) and Zach Trotman (legitimate surprise) were heavily underutilized in their Bruins’ careers, while Dennis Seidenberg, Kevan Miller, and Matt Bartkowski have been relied on to do far more than they are capable of. Brandon Carlo looks lonely down there with a negative relative CorsiFor Percentage, but a fairly good relative expected goals for percentage.

Caption: Data courtesy of, graphic by Spencer Fascetta

For some perspective, here is the distribution of relative expected goals for percentage and relative CorsiFor Percentage for the specific defense pairings Krug has been a part of since breaking into the league. He has played with 11 different partners in that timeframe. This time, games played is the size of the bubble. As you can see, a majority of his partners have created very low numbers, and are clustered near the zeros of each axis, with the ill-fated Seidenberg/Krug pairing the only one falling fully in the negative (and far into the negative at that). One only wishes that the Colin Miller/Krug pairing could have been given more time together, because they were far and away the most effective pair, and were nearly dominant on the ice when together.

The other important tidbit to note in this graphic is the size of the bubbles. As stated above, these are relative to the number of games Krug played with each partner. The largest bubbles all exist in the lower left of the graph, with poor relative CorsiFor Percentage and relative expected goals for percentage, and they get smaller as the metric get better. This further illustrates Krug’s plight on the back end, as he has very rarely been put in a position to be successful.

Caption: Data courtesy of, graphic by Spencer Fascetta

Finally, how does Krug match up league-wide in this sense? Well, I took the same measurements, expected goals for percentage and relative CorsiFor Percentage, and applied a 3000 minutes time on ice limit on the data to only look at players that played a significant amount of time for their team(s) over the past 6 years. I also added the condition of the quality of competition each player played against per that time on ice. This is what creates the bubble size. I highlighted Krug, as well as the four we discussed above – Keith, Subban, Karlsson, and Doughty. I also highlighted Mark Giordano, who is pretty close to perfect in this analysis, as well as former Bruins Andrew Ference (yet another guy who was not very good but got plenty of ice time to work with, and Dougie Hamilton. Dan Girardi is the plight of all analytics people (Kris Russell is a close second), so I have highlighted him for context as well.

Caption: Data courtesy of, graphic by Spencer Fascetta

As you can see, although Krug plays against slightly weaker competition, he still is among the upper echelon of defensemen in this league and compares very favorably to names like Doughty and Keith. If only we found a way to keep Dougie…

So, is Torey Krug a #1 defenseman in this league? Unequivocably yes. Why is he underrated? Well, the hockey community loves to hate in Boston, he was an undrafted college free agent signing, and, to be frank, he’s small. But he never shies away from physicality, he has been known to drop the gloves when necessary (see Andrew Shaw for both).

Oh, and in case you forgot, he can do things like this…

Many thanks to Corsica for providing the data used to create my own Viz for this piece, to for the use of their excellent Hero Charts, and a special thanks to Andrew Berkshire for allowing the use of his personal graphics from a piece he wrote earlier this year for Sportsnet on the Top 23 Defenseman in the NHL. He also goes into an incredible amount of detail on the specifics of these metrics, how they are comprised and calculated, and the way in which he aggregated each numerical value in order to reach the broad and encompassing values used in the graphics themselves. Please take a minute to follow him on Twitter @AndrewBerkshire, and check out his work at Sportsnet as well. He is an excellent source for hockey analytics analysis and news.

Please follow ME on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey, find me on YouTube @PuckNerd for hockey news, analysis, and my newest creation, BFR or Bruins Fan Reactions after nearly every B’s game. Looking forward to your feedback!

Boston Bruins Need To Protect Colin Miller

Mar 15, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Colin Miller (6) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Boston Bruins won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins will have a hard choice when it comes to protecting some of their players for the upcoming expansion draft. Hopefully, the B’s will have the good sense to keep defenceman Colin Miller.

By Andrew Thompson                                                               Twitter:  @godwentwhoops

The NHL playoffs are currently going through their second round. (Sadly, the Boston Bruins are out due to falling the Ottawa Senators in six games.) At the end of the playoffs, the Bruins will have to deal with the Las Vegas Golden Knights taking one of their players.  Nothing like an expansion draft to throw a wrench in the Black and Gold works.

The Golden Knights are likely going to steal a defenseman from Boston. There is a decent amount of talent in the B’s blueline, and several players are in the cross-hairs of the Knights.

Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug won’t be leaving the fold anytime soon. John-Michael Liles is likely done in Boston.  If (and that’s a moderately sized ‘if’) the Bruins keep Joe Morrow around, he won’t gather much attention from Vegas. This leaves Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, and Adam McQuaid.

Adam McQuaid will likely not be the first choice of the Knights. While the 30-year old has proven that he’s willing do anything for the team, he has reached the practical edge of his skill set.

There are other reasons why McQuaid is out. McQuaid is a bottom-four blueliner that has an extensive history of injuries. He’s also the B’s stay-at-home defenceman. The league is getting faster every year. As the average game’s speed increases, the need for a limited-zone d-man is going the way of the dinosaur and the enforcer.

This leaves one of the Millers.

A lot of people have argued that the Bruins should protect Kevan Miller. I don’t want to take anything away from the older Miller’s most recent work. The 29-year old Miller had a very solid playoff round against the Sens.  He would be a better choice than McQuaid, but he’s also approaching the edge of his skill set.

The Bruins need to look to the future. That’s why they have to keep Colin Miller. The 24-year old still has an incredible amount of potential. Miller will spend next season with Zdeno Chara. He’ll continue to learn and grow under the captain’s instruction. He’s also the only of the three who is already a legitimate top-four blueliner.

The Boston Bruins are in the middle of an emerging youth movement. They are looking to younger players to stand up and make the kind of difference they made in the postseason. If this is the B’s focus moving forward, they’ll need to keep their young gun.

The Bruins will have plenty of talent coming down the road.  Charlie McAvoy certainly looks ready. While the B’s are looking ahead to the future, they need to continue to improve their blue line today.

Look at where the B’s are now. McQuaid and Kevan Miller are more of the same. It’s not enough to be consistent in this league. The B’s will need to evolve and improve if they want to remain a credible playoff threat in the future. Colin Miller is a step up for the team

When the Bruins release their list of protected players, I hope Colin Miller is on the list. He’ll be an important piece of the team moving forward.

The Determination Of Colin Miller

Minnesota Wild v Boston Bruins

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Court Lalonde (follow @courtlalonde)

Colin Miller’s determination can be summed up in a quote from the Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, “I think I can, I think I can.” He has been one of the most improved players under coach Bruce Cassidy’s new system. He looks like a different player on the ice with the green light to skate with the puck, use that cannon of a shot and not just play dump and chase.

Miller has had to have a strong determination to succeed his whole hockey career. His Ontario Hockey League team, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds didn’t even draft him. He was a walk-on and made the team to play junior hockey. Miller had three goals and nineteen assists, with a plus-two rating on one of the worst teams in the OHL in his first season.

In 2011, his first year of eligibility for the National Hockey League draft he was passed over, but in 2012 he was selected in the fifth round, 151st overall by the Los Angeles Kings. Was known as an excellent puck mover, offensive defensemen, but lacked a physical presence. He would finish out the 2013 season with the Greyhounds and have his most productive year in the OHL. Miller had 20 goals, 35 assists, and a plus 13 rating. That made him the fourth leading scorer among defensemen in the OHL that year.

The next two seasons he would play for the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League. He had two very successful seasons in the AHL, winning the Calder Cup in 2015 and being selected to play in the AHL all-star game in 2014-15 season. During that all-star game, he won the fastest skater competition as well as the hardest shot competition, registering a 105.5 mph shot.

Miller was traded from the Kings, along with Martin Jones and the 13th overall pick (Jakub Zboril) at the 2015 entry draft for fan favorite Milan Lucic. Walking around Boston being known as the guy they traded Lucic for probably couldn’t have been easy on him. Making the Boston Bruins out of training camp that year was his first big break only to be sent back down to the AHL’s Providence Bruins half-way through the season, to finish out the year. This year is looking like his first full season with the Bruins but still, hasn’t played every game. He has been a healthy scratch some nights but in the last couple of months, has played well enough to keep himself in the lineup.

At the beginning of the year, you might have said we can leave him unprotected for the expansion draft. Recently, the pair of Kevin Miller and Colin Miller have been a great balance of grit and skill. His biggest asset is his offensive ability, along with his vision of the ice and being able to make that first pass. He has worked so hard for everything in his hockey career.  I feel by the end of the year; he will be one of those guys we say we have to keep and can’t afford to lose.