Going on with our Boston Bruins 2021 Player Grades series, we now look at defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.
With Torey Krug leaving for the St. Louis Blues in free agency, Matt Grzelcyk was thrown into a much larger role than previous seasons. He now was quarterbacking the B’s first powerplay unit and was basically expected to fill the void left by Krug’s departure.
However, Grzelcyk didn’t fill Krug’s shoes, he made his own path.
Despite being plagued by the injury bug all season (he only played 37 of the 56 regular-season games), Grizz was still very good when healthy. He may not have produced offensively like Krug had, but he made up for it by actually being something Krug wasn’t — being good at defending.
Matt Grzelcyk proved extremely valuable to the Bruins.
With Krug gone, Grzelcyk was now the B’s top offensive-minded defenseman. However, he didn’t necessarily perform as such, as he played much better defense than a typical offensive defenseman.
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Grzelcyk’s defensive metrics suggest he is a very good to elite 5-on-5 defender, and this was easy to see when he played this season. He knew how to use his angles and rarely pinched at poor times. He proved to be more of a very good two-way defenseman than an offensive defenseman.
While playing solid D, Grizz still produced offensively at a solid pace. In his 37 games, Grzelcyk produced five goals and 20 points, which is over 0.50 points per game.
Grzelcyk was good enough this season to be promoted to the top defensive pairing alongside Charlie McAvoy. Him and McAvoy would prove to be a lethal duo as they not only shut down the opposition but also created a crazy amount of offense with their skating ability and puck-moving skills.
You can tell just how valuable Grzelcyk is to the Black and Gold from how they play when he isn’t in the lineup. Boston struggled both defensively and offensively during the stretches that Grizz was injured this season — even after acquiring Mike Reilly as Reilly just isn’t Grzelcyk.
Hopefully Grzelcyk can stay healthy next season and the Bruins protect him in the expansion draft. I think he’ll be able to produce even more points next season, especially if he can stay healthy.