Bruins’ Krug: From Undrafted Free Agent to Big Payday

In the fall of 2009, Torey Krug walked onto the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing ready to begin his college hockey career after not being drafted in the NHL Entry Draft. A small defenseman, Krug’s path to the NHL started with the Spartans, as he looked to prove to all the clubs that they made a mistake in not drafting him.

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After three successful years at Michigan State, Krug signed a free-agent contract with the Boston Bruins following his junior year in the spring of 2012. Eight years later, he has set himself up for a big payday as one the best defensemen in the league.

Krug Shines at Michigan State

Krug unleashed his talents very quickly for the Spartans. In his freshman year, he climbed the ranks of the MSU depth chart from the bottom-six to a key cog on their blue line.

He made the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) All-Rookie Team after scoring three goals and 18 assists. His play did not go unnoticed, and he was named a Spartans captain before his sophomore year. He scored 11 goals and had 17 assists in his second season at Michigan State, which earned him First Team All CCHA after leading all CCHA defensemen in scoring.

Krug’s stock rose higher in his junior season when he was named CCHA Player of the Year and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist after scoring 12 goals and 22 assists. He quickly made a name for himself as an offensive defenseman.

Krug Signs with Boston

After that exceptional season, Krug signed a free-agent contract with the Bruins on March 25, 2012. He was inserted into the Bruins’ lineup a week later and made his NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins; he played the final two games of the regular season.

Torey Krug Bruins
Torey Krug, Boston Bruins, Dec. 2, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Krug spent most of the 2012-13 season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League before being called up during the Stanley Cup Playoffs because of injuries to the Bruins’ defense. When he scored against the New York Rangers in the Conference Semifinal, Krug became the first Boston rookie defenseman to score a goal in his playoff debut since Glen Wesley 25 years earlier.

Krug Makes Opening Night Roster

Krug made the Bruins’ opening night roster out of training camp at the beginning of the 2013-14 season and has been a staple on defense despite his 5-foot-9, 186-pounds frame.

Boston Bruin defenceman Torey Krug Brad Marchand David Krejci
Boston Bruin defenceman Torey Krug celebrates his winning overtime goal with teammates Brad Marchand and David Krejci (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

Over the last seven seasons, he has continued to produce offensively and has played in at least 76 games in five of those seasons. He has scored 67 goals, but being a play-maker has become his calling card.

In the last five seasons, he has had at least 40 assists each year. He reached his career-high with 47 assists in 2018-19 and had 40 assists this season when the season was paused by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on March 12 amid the world-wide coronavirus pandemic.

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Krug’s biggest contribution to the Bruins has been his production on the power play. He has 270 career regular-season assists and nearly half of them, 134, have come with the man advantage. In his first three trips to the playoffs, he had 19 playoff assists, 15 on the power play.

During last season’s playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final, Krug had 16 assists, 12 on the power play. In today’s NHL, it’s rare to find a defenseman who’s such a gifted play-maker.

Payday Coming This Summer

At the end of the 2016 season, Krug re-signed with the Bruins for four years and $21 million. That contract expires following the end of this season, whenever that may be. There is a good chance that the league will try to finish the season in some way, but there is also the possibility that the league will cancel it altogether.

If the season is canceled, one has to wonder if Krug has already played his final game in a Bruins uniform. He has hinted at taking a hometown discount to remain in Boston, but backtracked on that later. Whatever he decides to do, one thing is for sure, he will walk away with a nice new contract and a payday that he deserves.

There is a thought that Krug and his agent might command an $8 million yearly salary. Would the Bruins go that high? Who knows, but look for the Bruins first offer to him be in the six-year, $42-$48 million range. Something on the lower end of that could be a hometown discount for him. If not, then hitting the open market would interesting.