|Cody Franson signs with Sabres; Torey Krug might get wish for bigger role with Bruins||09.10.15 at 9:58 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The most logical solution to the Bruins’ top-four woes is officially off the table, as free-agent defenseman Cody Franson finally signed a contract on Thursday with the Sabres. The team announced the deal, which is for two years and approximately $3.3 million per season, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
While that news is frustrating for Bruins fans, it might be music to Torey Krug’s ears. The veteran defenseman said earlier in the offseason that, with the Bruins talking to Franson, he would like a crack at the minutes the team might give to a free agent. Now that Franson is in Buffalo, Krug’s chances of playing above the third pair are looking better.
“Like I said, whether it was a month ago, or even dating up to camp, if there’s a spot open, I’m going to take it,” Krug said on Thursday. “It still goes that it’s the coaching staff’s decision, management, but I’m going to go out there and play the way that I do and look to improve my role within the team.”
Krug, who averaged a career-high 19:36 per night last season, is entering his third NHL season. He’s been mostly a third-pairing defenseman, though he saw increased time in the top-four at points last season due to injuries on Boston’s blue line.
The 24-year-old took a one-year deal with the B’s for this season in hopes to parlay it into a richer longterm deal. To do that, he needs to establish himself as more than a third-pairing defender and power play specialist.
With Dougie Hamilton gone and the B’s overflowing with players best-suited for the third pairing, Krug intends to emerge as a more reliable blueliner this season. He said he didn’t keep tabs on Franson’s status when the B’s were in contract talks with the former Maple Leafs defender, but that he was intent on achieving his goal regardless of who was brought in.
“I prepared for the season the same way I would whether they bring in five other guys or they don’t bring in anyone,” Krug said. “The way you prepare is make sure you’re reaching your potential each season. For me, that was about taking a step forward. I think I’m physically ready. Now it’s about getting in game shape and getting on the ice with your new teammates and getting chemistry and things like that. The preparation is generally the same.”
|Informal skates beginning to fill out for Bruins||09.08.15 at 4:03 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — With rookie camp just days away and training camp next week, the group taking the ice for informal skates at Ristuccia Arena is filling out.
After a three-day break from the sessions for the long weekend, Tuesday’s skate saw a number of newcomers join a group of Bruins who had been skating at the practice facility for over a week. Among the new additions Tuesday were Torey Krug, Brett Connolly, Joe Morrow, Max Talbot, Matt Irwin, Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, Jeremy Smith and Jukub Zboril.
Forwards: Zac Rinaldo, Brett Connolly, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Brian Ferlin, Chris Kelly, Max Talbot, Loui Eriksson, Joonas Kemppainen, Anton Blidh, Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano, Ben Sexton, Colton Hargrove
Defensemen: Dennis Seidenberg, Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, Matt Irwin, Jakub Zboril
Goalies: Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, Jeremy Smith
Non-Bruins present at the skate included free agents Daniel Paille and Lee Stempniak. Shawn Thornton was there as well. He can legally hang around the Bruins until next Thursday when training camp begins, and it would come as no surprise if he did just that.
|Peter Chiarelli explains why he decided to extend Torey Krug, Reilly Smith: ‘Gives us comfort’||03.07.15 at 1:06 am ET|
For about 10 minutes Friday, after the team practice on TD Garden ice, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli attempted to explain why he committed nearly $11 million of salary and cap space for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.
“Torey on one year at 3.4 million, Reilly three years at 3.425 [million],” Chiarelli said. “Obviously there’s the contract in the past – beginning of the year. These are players we always liked and have a bright future for us. Term was important. It’s shorter term and gives us more flexibility and it gives them more flexibility as far as performing on a short term platform and becoming more of a fixture of us going forward.
“The one and two year terms were important to us. These were deals that came about, the ideas and the philosophies came out a little bit more after we signed the one year deals. Later in the winter and early spring we started’not spring but January and February we talked more. They worked very hard to bring together and these are two good, young players and two good young people.”
And they’re good people who won’t have to endure the frustration of sitting out of camp this summer because the team didn’t have enough cap space to sign them to contracts. Both Krug and Smith recalled Friday that uncomfortable feeling. Read the rest of this entry »
|Reilly Smith has some job security for now: ‘Hopefully I can stay with this organization a while’||03.06.15 at 10:20 pm ET|
After the obvious of getting a big pay raise, the best part of the two-year contract extension for Reilly Smith might be job security.
The Bruins right wing, like teammate Torey Krug, had to sit out the start of camp last summer because the Bruins were over the cap temporarily and couldn’t afford to sign them to new contracts until there was some roster manipulation and flexibility.
But there won’t be such worries this summer or the next as Smith agreed to a two-year extension through the 2016-17 season worth $3.425 million each season.
“It seems like through this whole thing, it’s always been me and Torey slotted together in this whole negotiation process,” Smith said. “It’s good and bad. It’s nice having someone with you through the whole negotiation process, especially in the summer when you’re sitting out camp when neither of us wanted to be. But it’s just good to have it behind us.”
Krug’s deal is worth $3.4 million, but is only good through next season. Still, having the piece of mind knowing that he’ll be in camp next summer is worth it to Smith.
“It was definitely tough. It was on my mind for a while,” Smith said. “It was a pretty stressful time in the summer, having to sit out camp for a while. I’m glad I don’t have to do that the next couple of years.”
Smith, who has struggle to finish scoring chances all season like the rest of his teammates, doesn’t mind the pressure that comes with expectations. Smith, still only 23, has just 12 goals in 63 games this season. General manager Peter Chiarelli, during a Friday press conference to announce the signings, admitted Smith is being paid like a 20-goal scorer.
“I think I welcome it,” Smith said of the pressure factor. “There’s probably a little bit more pressure but as a hockey player and playing in this organization and at this level, you welcome that every day because people get better every day and just being able to cope with challenges and changes in this league, I think it’s something every player in this league dreams to be able to do. Read the rest of this entry »
|Torey Krug knows Brett Connolly’s return from broken finger will last longer than missed games||03.05.15 at 11:57 am ET|
The six-week period that the Bruins will be without Brett Connolly is step one of an undesirable two-step process through which the team will have to work. After that comes the other hard part.
No injuries are easy to return from, but it can take a long time for a player returning from a finger injury to feel right. The fact that Connolly will go through the re-acclimation process in the postseason is far from optimal.
“It sucks,” Torey Krug said Thursday, and he would know.
Krug suffered a broken left pinky finger suffered on a slash from Zach Parise Oct. 28.
Though he returned after four games out of the lineup, his time getting comfortable again far eclipsed the length of period he stayed out of game action. A player whose bread and butter is his slap shot, Krug was limited to wrist shots and landed three shots on goal in just one of his first 11 games back. He had only one point — a goal — in that span.
“For me, I was always thinking about my finger and wondering how it was going to feel,” Krug said of his return from the injury. “When I had the puck, I was wondering if somebody was going to try and slash my hand again, so it was just a lot of thinking. It took me a while to get to the point where I didn’t have to think about it anymore.”
How long? About two months, by Krug’s estimation. He’s now playing with a new glove he received that has an extra-thick block of padding around the left pinky, which gives Krug peace of mind more than anything.
The slap shot issue won’t be a major problem for Connolly given that he’s a forward and doesn’t need to take many slappers, but Krug feels bad that Connolly’s first games with the Bruins will be spent trying to forget about an injury.
“He’s looking for a fresh start and was very excited about the opportunity that he had here to have that,” Krug said. “We were equally excited to have him. Being a forward in that position, you’re playing with the puck maybe a little bit more and you’re shooting the puck and you’ve got to handle it quicker. I can definitely feel for him, for sure.”
Connolly, who will undergo surgery on his right index finger, becomes just another name on a lengthy list of Bruins who have missed stretches of time due to injury this season. He joins Krug, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller and Gregory Campbell.
“I know it’s happened a lot this year, but it’s just of how things have gone,” Krug said with a laugh, almost in disbelief. “We were very excited about what he could bring to the team, but now we can’t sit here and dwell on it. We have guys in this room that are capable of stepping up and filling voids, and they’re going to do that.”
|Torey Krug, Brad Marchand get in dustup during Bruins practice||01.06.15 at 1:19 pm ET|
Torey Krug and Brad Marchand got into a tussle during battle drills in Tuesday’s practice. The two had to be separated after some netront battling escalated. Shortly after, the two led the team’s stretch together.
The dustup was the second the Bruins have had during a practice this season, as Claude Julien had to separate Tuukka Rask and Carl Soderberg on Nov. 24 during a morning skate.
“I don’t think it’s a big issue,” Julien said of Tuesday’s fracas.
Marchand and Krug both said they were fine with each other after the practice, with Marchand saying it was a result of him telling Krug’s “brother’s fiance’s friend” that he was taller than Krug. So there’s that.
“It shows emotion, and right now that’s one thing we need, is to show a little more emotion,” Marchand said. “That’s what we need. Obviously you don’t want to be going at each other in practice, but sometimes things happen and hopefully that all carries over into the game.”
|Injuries mean jobs: Bruins’ young defensemen should seize moment like those before them||11.20.14 at 3:14 pm ET|
Peter Chiarelli will probably never say how many NHL defensemen he thinks he has again.
Since saying that he felt he had nine this offseason, the number has been tested significantly. After trading one of them in Johnny Boychuk, Chiarelli has seen five of his defensemen get hurt in the first 20 games of the season. Of the nine NHL-caliber defensemen Chiarelli said he felt the Bruins possessed, the only three who haven’t suffered an injury this season have been Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.
That is rough, rough stuff for the Bruins, but it does allow that list of NHL defensemen to get longer. Games played as injury replacements have been the avenue to the NHL for many of Boston’s young defensemen, with Hamilton really the only one who was actually given a job to begin his NHL career.
Adam McQuaid filled in for an injured Mark Stuart and took his job in 2011. Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski earned their sweaters in the 2013 postseason. Kevan Miller and Zach Trotman got their feet wet a season ago with injuries to various blueliners, while Joe Morrow initially came up to replace the struggling Bartkowski this season but will remain in the lineup in part because of Boston’s ailing back end.
Krug thinks that’s a respectable way to become an NHL player. He feels jumping in to replace a hurt player leaves less room for thinking, which is a good way to avoid mistakes for a young player.
“It doesn’t leave you time to think about what could happen or what could go wrong, because you’re the only option,” he said. “They’re putting you in the game and you’ve just got to go out and do your thing. All the guys that have gone out and done so so far have taken the right mindset.
“That’s the only reason I’m here right now, is because there was an opportunity with a couple guys hurt in the playoffs, and I [made] the best of it. I think these guys are doing a good job of taking these opportunities and running with it. It’s fun when you earn things like that.”
McQuaid had gotten off to a very encouraging start to this season coming off an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign that saw him dress in only 30 games. With a broken thumb putting his season on hold for 6-8 weeks, the Bruins have to go back to their group of young defensemen for bigger and tougher minutes.
That won’t be easy, but given the job that Miller did replacing him last season and the play they’ve gotten from other young blueliners, the Bruins are confident they can handle the loss.
“Is it a silver lining? It is in a way because we really felt we had some good depth on the back end,” Claude Julien said. “I think it’s showing now. Whoever we bring up seems to be doing a decent job. A lot of guys that are here now are going to make it difficult for us when it’s all said and done. There’s a pretty good competition going again on our back end.”
Morrow, a 2011 first-round pick, has proven to be a better NHL player than he was an AHL player. Trotman, meanwhile, was replaced by Bartkowski on Saturday and eventually sent to Providence, but now he’s back with the NHL club. Neither player was on Chiarelli’s unofficial list of nine this summer, but they can add their names to it with strong performances.
Given their injuries, the Bruins’ list of NHL-caliber defensemen isn’t anything like what it was in the offseason, but as players return to the lineup, the B’s could eventually find themselves at a point where they have more guys capable of handling NHL minutes than they did immediately after trading Boychuk.
“I think that number’s grown,” Krug said. “You’re witnessing Joe come in and do a great job, and Trots is getting the experience and he’s doing well. I think that number’s getting higher and higher. Hopefully at some point, we have that many guys that the coaching staff has to make a decision who to play.”