Matt Grzelcyk has a good opportunity to replace Torey Krug on the Bruins top power play unit.
When Torey Krug agreed to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract with the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 9, the Boston Bruins not only lost one of their best defensemen, but also one of the most important pieces of the NHL’s second-ranked power play during last season.
Eight days later, the Bruins and Matt Grzelcyk avoided arbitration by agreeing to a four-year, $14.75 million contract with an annual cap hit of $3,687,500. Grzelcyk had a cap hit of $1.4 million in the last two seasons. The new contract is a reward for the 26-year old who set five career-highs in games played (68), goals (four), assists (17), points (21) and power play points (seven) during the 2019-20 shortened regular-season.
Now coach Bruce Cassidy has the option to boost the role of the former Boston University standout on the top power play unit replacing Krug if and when the NHL is able to begin the 2020-21 season.
With Krug gone, Grzelcyk has the opportunity to quarterback the Bruins unit that is not short on talent. David Pastrnak had 20 goals and 18 assists on the man advantage, while Brad Marchand had five goals and 23 assists. Patrice Bergeron had 11 goals and nine assists, but make no mistake, Krug is what made the unit go with 26 assists.
Grzelcyk (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) is similar in stature to Krug (5-foot-9, 186 pounds), but brings a different skill-set. Krug has a hard slap shot, but Grzelcyk has a wrist shot that is becoming an arsenal in his game. Grzelcyk also sees the ice very well and is a good puck-moving defenseman.
Depending on what happens with captain Zdeno Chara and his free agency, Grzelcyk will move up from this third defensive pairing last season to either the first or second pairing. It’s not out of the question that he could find himself next to Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing 5-on-5.
With Krug’s departure, Grzelcyk has the opportunity to take over the Bruins’ first power play unit as the lone defensemen on the ice and look to lead one of the league’s most dangerous groupings.