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Torey Krug & Reilly Smith Glad to Be Back in the Mix

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - On Monday, defensemen Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith were signed by the Bruins to one-year contracts.

The pair then hit the ice with their teammates at TD Garden for their first practice of training camp. They looked pretty happy to be out there.

"It's nice to have them back, I think everybody agrees on that, and now it's a matter of getting them in game shape," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told media following practice. "They've been skating, they showed up and actually look in real good shape, but playing and battling are two different things, so they've got a little less time than others have to get up to speed with everybody."

Krug and Smith were training and skating together in Connecticut, while the Bruins spent 10 days on the ice at training camp and suited up in four preseason games.

"It was tough at first. I was a little nervous," Krug admitted, of being back on the ice for practice. "Which I was surprised about, but it's just about being back in the season and the flow of things, and being on the ice with those guys, so I settled down later on and it felt good at the end."

"It was fun. I think that was probably the biggest thing I was looking forward to do, is getting back on the ice and skating with all of these guys," smiled Smith. "It's a pretty fast pace and you expect that. There's a lot of competition out here, so that should force me to get better."

Both players knew getting a deal done would take some time, with their contracts expired, the limited contractual rights they had (being entry-level restricted free agents with no arbitration rights, since they each burned the first year of their entry-level deals) - and the Bruins with obvious cap constraints.

"I think at some point, you've just got to get in here and make sure you're prepared for the upcoming season, and it got to be that time," said Krug. "And we talked to Pete a lot over the past few days and we decided to come to the deal that we reached."

"We're very happy to be here. I was very excited to walk in the room and see all of the guys, and be back in this great city, so I'm very happy with how things worked out."

Each contract is worth an annual cap hit of $1.4 million. The team-friendly deals allowed the Bruins to sign Krug and Smith without needing GM Peter Chiarelli to pull the trigger on any moves quite yet.

With Ville Leino released from his tryout and the addition of Smith, the Bruins still have 18 forwards at camp, along with 10 defensemen and four goalies. They'll need to get down to their 23-man roster by opening night on October 8.

"You know, there's still housekeeping to do from a numbers perspective, so yeah, it's good [to not have to make a move]," Chiarelli said. "This is a business and you've got to put a roster in place and you've got to put a winning roster in place and it's still a challenge that we have, and we always have, and it will remain a challenge."

Both players want to remain with Boston long-term, but taking the one-year deals was the best option.

"You're always trying to look for other options and you want to stay with this team as long as you can," said Smith. "It's a great group of guys, great organization, and the cap's also a huge factor, so when that comes into play, you kind of just have to accept it and try and move on from it."

"Obviously both of us wanted to play here and we like playing with each other, so you don't really want to push anyone out of it, so it seemed like that was the one solution that was there."

With a week and a half left in training camp before the season opens, all sides felt the pressure to get a deal in place.

"Things were coming around a little bit. I think the Jaden Schwartz signing [with St. Louis] helped push it along, and then of course, just the timing by itself - a week left of camp helped push it, too," said Chiarelli.

"And they're both conscientious young men that want to play and want to pursue their careers and want to be part of the Bruins too, so that helped too, at some point," the GM added with a smile.

Now, the focus for Krug and Smith is to get into game shape as quickly as they can. They won't be suiting up in Tuesday night's preseason game at TD Garden, according to Chiarelli, so that leaves two games on Friday and Saturday.

They know the work that they have to do.

"You're not on the ice with NHL guys every day where I was. Me and Smitty, we're going to work our hardest to get back where we were, and it shouldn't take long I don't think," said Krug.

"We've been skating back there [in Connecticut] every day, so it's not like we're off the ice or anything. We worked hard so we're just happy to be back."

They're also happy to not have to check their phones constantly every day.

"Everyone being here and not being able to be part of that, it's a tough thing - days are really long, I'll tell you that for sure," said Smith. "It seemed like every 20 minutes I was looking at my phone and every 20 minutes, I was checking to see if there was any new messages and anything going forward in the negotiations."

"So it was tough - long days, pretty anxious for most of it, so just glad that's all behind me now."

It would have been even tougher if the 23-year-olds hadn't gone through this together.

"It definitely would have been tough. It was great having someone going through the same situation, pretty much almost identical," said Smith. "You know, us both leaving college [Miami and Michigan State] at the same time, playing against each other in college, and then have the same situation, being able to stay with each other in the offseason while camp was going on - that makes it a lot easier."

"You're not as anxious as I believe I would have been, not having a deal coming in, so we definitely bounced ideas off of each other all the time and the main goal was to get our deals done and pretty much get them together."

With the deals done, both Bruins at camp, and Boston moving closer to the start of the regular season, negotiations could already start up again for their extensions.

"We want to sign them to extensions as soon as we can, because those are two young men that we want to have in the mix," said Chiarelli.

All summer, the Bruins GM reiterated that same sentiment: the importance of keeping them in the Spoked-B.

"I want to be in Boston as long as I can," said Krug. "And with this group of guys, you see the attitude in here and what it takes to win and it's something I want to be a part of for as long as I can."

"It means a lot. It's nice to know they have that type of faith in you and it goes a long way," said Smith.

First, the two Bruins are focused on once again proving their worth.

"Right now, I'm just happy to be back and I'm focused on the job at hand," said Krug. "I've got to get prepared for the season and make sure I do my job. You know, I've never had an issue with trying to prove myself before, and I'm going to try and do it again, and we'll see where it takes me."

"It's a two-way street," echoed Smith. "And I have to do my job to pretty much force them to keep me here."

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