That defenseman Torey Krug is in the NHL and playing well for the Boston Bruins should come as no big surprise to Canes management.
Krug attended the Canes' rookie conditioning camp in 2011 as an invitee, paying his own way from Michigan State to join Ryan Murphy, Victor Rask, Frederik Andersen and others. Not the biggest guy at 5-9 and 181 pounds, he impressed many with his toughness, determination and offensive ability.
As for what has happened to him in the two years since …
"It's been crazy," he said Monday after the Bruins' morning skate. "Coming from Michigan State and trying to work to get drafted, and that didn't happen. I picked a team and I picked the Bruins and it's crazy that a year later I was playing in the Stanley Cup finals with them. It's been an emotional ride."
The Canes say they pushed hard to sign Krug out of MSU in 2012 and Krug said the same Monday.
"They were one of the teams that was right there in the running," he said. "They were definitely a team I was interested in. For me, Boston was just the right fit."
Named CCHA player of the year in 2012 and a Hobey Baker Award finalist, Krug signed as a free agent with the Bruins on March 25, 2012 and played two regular-season games for Boston. He spent the 2012-2013 season with the Providence Bruins (AHL), but was an emergency recall by the the big club during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Krug became the first Bruins defenseman to score in his first playoff game since Glen Wesley in 1988. He also was the first rookie defenseman in NHL history to score goals in four of his first five playoff games.
Krug, 22, has continued his strong play this season. The Livonia, Mich., native has had a five-game point streak and has six goals (three on the power play) and six assists in 19 games.
"Whenever you have success you'll always have someone saying, 'He's too small, he'll eventually go away,'" Krug said. "You try to keep fighting and keep making sure you earn your spot."
Asked what he remembers most about that 2011 rookie camp, at PNC Arena and at the Polar Ice House in Wake Forest, Krug smiled.
"I remember all of it," he said. "All the off-ice conditioning, doing all those things. The people were great to me, too.
"It was a fun experience. The people made it fun and the people in the organization. It was great."