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Learning process begins

Krug on hand, will soak in pro game

Zdeno Chara waves to the Garden crowd as his wife Tatiana and daughter Elliz Victoria look on during a pregame ceremony honoring his 1,000th NHL game. Zdeno Chara waves to the Garden crowd as his wife Tatiana and daughter Elliz Victoria look on during a pregame ceremony honoring his 1,000th NHL game. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 28, 2012
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Torey Krug is listed at 5 feet 9 inches, which is not ideal when going for his gear at his new workplace.

“I don’t know if they build these lockers for him,’’ said Krug, referring to 6-9 teammate Zdeno Chara. “I can barely reach my helmet on top.’’

Had Krug been blessed with a touch more height, the young defenseman would have been a high-round draft pick. But the NHL’s gatekeepers still lean on size, especially with defensemen, when building their rosters.

So just as 30 teams bypassed Krug in the annual meat market because of his size, stature will become an issue once the Livonia, Mich., native kicks off his pro career.

“My whole life, I’ve been told I’m too small,’’ said the 180-pound Krug. “That’s one of the reasons why I wasn’t drafted.

“At the same time, maybe not being drafted was a blessing in disguise. There’s few times in pro sports when guys can pick where they want to play. I had that opportunity. Here I am in Boston.’’

The Bruins signed Krug to a three-year, $2.75 million contract Saturday. He recently completed his junior season at Michigan State, where he put up a 12-22-34 line in 38 games. Krug is a Hobey Baker finalist and the CCHA Player of the Year.

The Bruins hope Krug will become the left-shot version of San Jose’s Dan Boyle, also a CCHA alum (Miami). The 21-year-old is a dynamic skater who can push the puck and find the net from the point. Another comparable is Minnesota defenseman Jared Spurgeon.

Another comparable is current Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney, who was a mobile, left-shot, smaller-than-most defenseman. Sweeney put on muscle to survive the grinding in the danger areas. If Krug can gain strength while maintaining his offensive touch, he should be able to compete against the NHL’s big boys.

“I hope I can use Mr. Sweeney as a resource,’’ Krug said. “He’s one of the reasons I came here. He’s a smaller defenseman who played in the league for a lot of years. He played over 1,000 games.’’

Traditionally, collegians who sign around this time head to the AHL. But Krug was heavily recruited by other NHL teams. As part of their deal, the Bruins told Krug he could report directly to the big club instead of Providence.

Krug may not appear in a regular-season game this season, and he is not eligible for the playoffs. Even with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, this will count as Year One of Krug’s three-year contract. Barring any changes to the entry-level system within the next collective bargaining agreement, Krug will become a restricted free agent on July 1, 2014.

Krug most likely will start 2012-13 in Providence. He will have a similar teammate in David Warsofsky - an offensive-minded ex-collegian battling size issues.

For now, Krug will be an NHL healthy scratch. On Tuesday, he attended special-teams meetings, then hit the TD Garden ice for his first morning skate as a pro. Krug chose No. 47, last worn by Michigan graduate Steven Kampfer.

If the Bruins lock in a playoff position next week, it’s possible some of the blue-line horses will get a breather. If that happens, Krug could play. Not bad for someone who earlier this month was studying for a test in college.

“I’m certainly not going to tell you right now that he’s not going to play,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “We may give him an opportunity. It depends on how everything goes. The one thing he gets to do is experience the level of competition here at the NHL.’’

Rolston hot

On Sunday against Anaheim, Julien determined that Rich Peverley was ready to play after he had recovered from a knee sprain. At the same time, Julien decided Peverley would not be replacing Brian Rolston, who has been occupying the ex-Thrasher’s usual spot on the No. 3 line, with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot.

Rolston has not given his coaches any reason to pull him out.

Rolston has now scored in seven straight games after recording an assist on Pouliot’s game-winning goal. Rolston has three goals and nine assists during the streak. The 39-year-old’s legs and lungs didn’t appear to be NHL-ready upon his second arrival in Boston on Feb. 27. A month later, Rolston is one of the club’s sharpest forwards.

“I’ve just been given a great opportunity,’’ said Rolston. “The coaches have shown a lot of confidence in me in certain situations. That gives me confidence as a player. Obviously playing with two great players helps out a lot as well. I think we just have good chemistry together. That’s about it.’’

Not much rust

Peverley was back on the No. 2 line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. He returned on that line against the Ducks. Peverley scored an empty-netter to become the team’s 10th player with 10 or more goals . . . Bergeron won 20 of 25 faceoffs . . . Marchand and Chara led all players with six shots apiece . . . Krug was recruited by Boston University and Boston College before choosing Michigan State. During his freshman year, Krug was partners with current Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry . . . Krug, Joe Corvo, Mike Mottau, and Daniel Paille were the healthy scratches . . . Tickets for the first three home games of the first round of the playoffs will go on sale Friday at 11 a.m. Tickets are available at the Garden box office, bostonbruins.com, and Ticketmaster . . . Before the game, the Bruins honored Chara, who appeared in his 1,000th career NHL game Saturday against Los Angeles. The Bruins gave Chara a silver stick, a portrait, and a hotel stay anywhere in the world . . . The regular-season finale April 7 against Buffalo has been moved to 4 p.m. and will be on NESN.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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