The Chicago Blackhawks are shopping center Marcus Kruger and "putting out feelers for a possible trade partner" for Andrew Shaw, according to the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc. The pair of forwards have been key contributors to the Blackhawks for years, but may end up being the next casualties of Chicago's quest to earn more salary cap space ahead of the 2016-17 NHL season.
Kruger, 26, is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he missed half of the team's games due to a wrist injury. He posted just four points, all assists, in 41 regular season games in 2015-16. Known more for his defensive play, he's posted just 88 points in 328 games in his five-year NHL career. Kruger signed a three-year contract extension in March and carries a salary cap hit of $3,083,333.
Shaw, 24, scored 14 goals and 20 assists in 78 games last season. He filled in on the top line when Marian Hossa went on IR. He led the team in scoring with four goals and two assists in six playoff games. He only played six of the seven-game series because he was suspended for Game 5 and had to pay a $5,000 fine after directing a homophobic slur at an official in Game 4.
Shaw's agent, Pat Brisson, who also represents Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, reportedly has plans to talk with Hawks general manager Stan Bowman prior to the NHL Draft, which takes place Friday and Saturday at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
Chicago cleared salary cap space earlier this month by trading Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2016 second-round pick and 2017 third-round pick. The move appeared to free up about $5 million in cap space, which gives the Hawks some flexibility to re-sign Shaw, who is set become a restricted free agent. He was a $2.5 million cap hit last season.
The NHL free agency period begins at 11 a.m. CT July 1.