Krug eager after quick taste of NHL

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Of the 30 players participating in the Boston Bruins development camp at Ristuccia Arena, only one has played in the NHL.

Torey Krug, 21, made his NHL debut with the Bruins on April 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden after Boston signed him as a free agent on March 25 out of Michigan State University. The defenseman played a total of two games for the Bruins and impressed the coaching staff and management.

“I thought Torey handled it very well,” said Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney. “I thought he stepped into late-season games when the pace is usually pretty high, and playing the Pittsburgh Penguins your first time out is probably not the easiest thing in the world to do. Then, going on the road and playing in Ottawa was another difficult task because those games were very meaningful for Ottawa at that particular time, as they were for us.

“We obviously watched Torey for a long time and felt he would be able to handle that, and now the bar sort of resets for him. He’s made his impression and he did very well and now he’s got to go out and push someone out of the way and earn that spot. I think he’s excited to try to do that. He’s got some things we’re going to try build into his game. He’s not a ready-made guy, but he’s got a lot of attributes that certainly separate him from some of the younger kids.”

During Krug’s second game for the Bruins last spring in Ottawa, the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder got pushed around quite a bit on the ice and that’s when he realized he was no longer playing college hockey.

“That kind of hit me like, ‘Wow. I need to get a lot stronger to be able to compete at this level the way I want to compete.’ Those two games definitely helped and opened my eyes a little bit. It was the most fun two weeks I’ve ever had and it gives me a lot of incentive to get back and try to make the team again.”

That experience taught him what he needs to do in order to prepare for training camp in September.

“Everything speaks for itself,” Krug said. “I’m a smaller defenseman and I’ve got to get stronger and I’ve got to get faster in order to compete against these bigger guys. I’m just going to work as hard as I can in the summer and try to give myself the opportunity to make the team and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Because Krug signed after the trade deadline, he was ineligible to play in the postseason, so he could only watch as the Washington Capitals defeated the Bruins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. It finally sunk in during that first-round series that he achieved his goal of reaching the NHL.

“It took a while,” he said. “Since I wasn’t allowed to play in the playoffs, I was watching the playoffs on TV and all of a sudden it hit me that I could have actually been out on the ice with these guys. It took a bit to sink in, but now that it has it’s behind me and I’m ready to get working and try to make a career out of this.”

Even though Krug decided to turn pro after his junior year, he’s still taking classes in order to earn his college degree.

“It’s something I’m still going to work towards, whether it’s an online class or I have to actually go to Michigan State to take a class, it’s something I’m going for.”