On October 9th the St. Louis Blues made a very unexpected move when they signed Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug to a seven-year $45.5 million dollar contract, effectively ending Alex Pietrangelo’s career with the organization. Now the question being asked is, will Krug be able to step into the role vacated by the loss of Pietrangelo and live up to the expectations of Blues Fans?
Just one short year ago, Torey Krug was the enemy as the Blues faced off against the Bruins for the Stanley Cup… now, fast-forward to 2020 and he is a member of the Blues and the question is, does the change result in net positive results for the Blues organization?
So in this article, we compare the stats and intangibles of the two players over the course of their careers to see how the transition might go.
Off-Ice Statistical Comparisons
It’s important to look at each players contributions on the ice, but perhaps as important is what they bring off the ice, how they got to where they are and the little things about each player. In other words, is there anything that stands out as a glaring strength or weakness that make it harder for Krug to succeed?
The NHL Draft
Krug went undrafted, but signed as a free agent out of Michigan State University on March 25th, 2012. Pietrangelo was drafted 4th overall by the Blues in 2008.
While there’s nothing wrong with making it after being undrafted (in fact, it should be commended), we’ll give the upper hand to Pietrangelo as he was drafted and began his professional career four years earlier than Krug.
Height and Weight
Torey Krug is 5’9”, 185lbs. Pietrangelo is 6’4”, 205lbs. The clear edge goes to Pietrangelo in this category but perhaps not as much as it used to in a slower, more physical NHL of a few years ago.
But, we’ll say Pietrangelo wins this head-to-head matchup being seven inches taller and 20lbs heavier than Krug.
Krug is 29 years old and Pietrangelo, just one year older is 30. While both are in their prime, based solely on the actual age, Krug wins as he is one year younger. But, the key is that this is only one year and Pietrangelo has three more full seasons under his belt.
While Pietrangelo wins two out of the three categories (one could be argued it’s dead even as one category is closer to a tie), there’s nothing here that suggests the Blues took a huge step back. On the ice Krug has become an elite defensemen in the NHL.
Sure, Krug was undrafted and is considered an “undersized player” at only 5’9” and 185lbs, but he’s proven that draft status and size doesn’t matter. In today’s NHL, the smaller guy has a real place and Krug has been the poster child for what a mobile offensive defenseman looks like.
Torey Krug’s Path to the NHL
In 2009, after going undrafted in the NHL Entry Draft, he went to Michigan State University to begin his college career. When he arrived on campus he was slated as the team’s fifth or sixth defenseman, but by the end of his freshman year he had finished second on the team in rookie scoring and led all CCHA first-year defensemen in scoring.
He was also named to the CCHA’s all-rookie team, quickly gaining a reputation as one of the CCHA’s most offensive performers.
In his sophomore season, he was named Captain of the team while also earning accolades for the All-CCHA team for the second straight season, along with being named a CCHA player of the year and a Hobey Baker Award finalist. He shared the conference scoring title with T.J. Tynan of Notre Dame, and became the first defenseman to win the award since Wayne Gagner of Western Michigan in ’86-’87.
His production and accolades in college made him a highly sought after free agent before he ultimately signed with the Bruins in 2012. He made his NHL debut on April 3rd, 2012 against the Pittsburgh Penguins before finishing the season with one assist in two games played.
Krug spent the 2012-13 season with the Providence Bruins where he was limited to 63 games after suffering a sprained ankle that kept him out until mid-January. But, during the playoffs, the Boston Bruins called him up on a emergency basis where he scored his first NHL goal in his first playoff game, becoming the first Bruins d-man to do so since Glen Wesley in 1988.
Despite being only 5’9″ and 185lbs — a notably “undersized” player by NHL standards — he fought his way up the ranks to become a full-time NHLer. His determination and perseverance will likely make him a fan favorite with the Blues.
On-Ice Statistical Comparison
You can view their season by season on ice stats at the site linked below.
As you will see, Krug has had five consecutive seasons with over 40 assists and 50+ points, along with over 20 minutes of average ice time.
In the past five seasons, he has proven himself to be a very consistent point-producing blueliner for the Bruins, so it can be expected that after a short transition period to adjust to his new team and teammates that production will carry over to the St. Louis Blue line.
Meanwhile, in the same time period, Pietrangelo has tallied; 97 goals, 307 assists, and 404 points in 662 games. While Pietrangelo has had more goals, assists, and points, he has also played 235 more games than Krug in his career and 139 more games in the same time period.
Also, Pietrangelo has never had a streak of consecutive seasons with 50+ points where as mentioned earlier, Krug has had five 50+ point seasons in a row.
It’s hard to make a comparison of these two players without discussing the cost difference. Krug comes in at $2.3 million lower salary for two less seasons. That’s a huge plus for St. Louis who can make other moves while the Vegas Golden Knights will have cap issues and could see some regression from Pietrangelo at the tail end of that deal.
Finally, one could argue the St. Louis Blues were a little light on the left side of their blue line while the right was strong with Colton Parakyo already in house. Krug seems to be a good fit as a natural lefty who can run the power play.
In short, Pietrangelo is an elite defenseman but Krug’s consistent point production and ability to play over 20 minutes on a regular basis, makes him an equal or potentially better replacement for Pietrangelo considering the Blues needs and financial situation.
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