Tuesday has been quite an interesting day for Chicago Blackhawks fans as many held their breath in regards to the status of injured wing Patrick Sharp. Interestingly before ‘Hawks fans heard what plagued their leading goal scorer some interesting news filtered out of Sweden as it appeared as though prospect Marcus Kruger was on his way to Chicago and could make his NHL debut on Wednesday against the Florida Panthers.
With the news of Kruger making his way to Chicago many a Blackhawk fan were panicked as this could mean the news on Sharp’s injury was bad and would have to rely on a 20-year-old forward who has never played a single NHL to replace his production. Thankfully this was not the case as after the Blackhawks practice coach Joel Quenneville stated that Sharp’s injury was not serious but would likely miss 2-3 weeks with a knee injury and could return before the end of the regular season.
After that bit of news many were curious as to why Kruger was on his way to Chicago, the reason seems to be that the ‘Hawks are still desperately trying to fill the void left when Dave Bolland left the line up. Coach Quenneville confirmed that assumption and stated that bringing Kruger over from Sweden had been in the works before Sharp went down with injury.
So what should Blackhawks fans expect from Kruger?
Well considering Kruger is skating on North American ice for the first time in his professional career, I would say not to expect much from him early but as he gets accustom to the NHL pace and style he might fit in perfectly. The major advantage that Kruger has coming to the NHL is the fact that he has been playing professional hockey the past two seasons, against men.
Unlike young players who have played in junior or at the collegiate level is that they are playing against kids their age, physically immature and less developed skill wise but Kruger has been playing against men who have experience at the professional level.
Kruger’s experience at a professional level, along with his high hockey sense and good pair of hands makes him a good fit down the middle for the ‘Hawks. Many believed that Kruger was a lock next season to make the roster so we will be getting an early glimpse of what he can do at the NHL level.
This time that he spends with the ‘Hawks now should also benefit him next season as he will see what a playoff push is like in the NHL and hopefully will get to see some playoff action as well.
It might be optimistic to think that Kruger will seamlessly replace Bolland on the ‘Hawks third line but with his high hockey IQ the learning curve should not be too steep for the young Swede. Hopefully Kruger can step into the lineup provide some stability at the center position and help the ‘Hawks get an important two points against the Panthers.