Blackhawks Trade Kruger to Golden Knights

The Chicago Blackhawks have traded Marcus Kruger to the Vegas Golden Knights for future considerations, as reported by Darren Dreger of TSN on Sunday. Kruger was expected to be traded to the Golden Knights as part of the Expansion Draft in exchange for the Blackhawks allowing Vegas to select defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk. While the Expansion Draft came and went and Kruger remained a member of the Blackhawks, there is still the possibility that the deal was expected to occur after July 2 from the very beginning. The Blackhawks owe Kruger a $2 million signing bonus on July 2 and that seemingly played a role in the situation,

In 398 career games, Kruger has scored 33 goals and 105 points with the Blackhawks since being drafted in the fifth-round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Known for his defensive ability, Kruger has been a valuable member of the Blackhawks team over the last few seasons and has been a part of two Stanley Cup winning teams in 2013 and again in 2015. Due to his cap hit that exceeds $3 million per season, however, the Blackhawks are forced to move the 27-year-old center to continue their cap purge – something that the team has done with regularity for over a half-decade.

Marcus Kruger (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Golden Knights may be getting Kruger as a “cap dump” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Kruger isn’t worth the money that he’s earning. On a team like the Blackhawks who are paying many large contracts, including two contracts with annual cap hits of $10.5 million to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, bottom-six players simply can’t earn as much as Kruger does. For Vegas, Kruger could be a valuable commodity given his veteran experience, defensive ability and championship pedigree.

Busy Offseason for the Blackhawks

The 2017 offseason has been anything but uneventful for the Blackhawks. With news that they will be without Marian Hossa for the entirety of the 2017-18 season and potentially beyond, it was clear that the Blackhawks would have a hole to fill in their lineup. Looking for salary cap flexibility, the Blackhawks also traded Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes while replacing him with Connor Murphy in the same transaction.

North America World Cup roster
Photo: Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers

Another deal that saw the Blackhawks thinking of their future salary cap situation was the swap of Brandon Saad and Artemi Panarin. Though Panarin has proven to be a superstar in his two seasons with the Blackhawks, the team felt that Brandon Saad was a better fit for the system they’re running. The return of Saad also buys them an additional two seasons with a $6 million cap hit versus the two years they would have got with Panarin. The reunion tour wasn’t over with Saad returning to the Blackhawks lineup, however. The team also made a move early into the free agency period, signing Patrick Sharp to a team-friendly one-year, $1 million contract.