The Chicago Blackhawks have traded center Marcus Kruger to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for future considerations, the team announced Sunday. In other words, it’s a pure salary dump as the Hawks get nothing for moving Kruger’s contract.
The long-awaited deal came to fruition Sunday after Kruger received his $2 million signing bonus for the 2017-18 season Saturday.
Kruger needed to be traded in order for the Blackhawks to get under the salary cap by the start of next season. By moving the final two years of his contract, which has a $3.08 million cap hit, Chicago should be able to squeeze under the $75 million upper limit for opening day.
The money explains why this trade needed to be delayed until Sunday. Kruger is owed $3.475 million in salary for the 2017-18 season, but $2 million of that came in the form of a signing bonus due on Saturday when the new league year starts.
By waiting until now, the Blackhawks were able to increase Kruger’s trade value by paying that $2 million instead of the Golden Knights. Now Vegas is only on the hook for $1.475 million this year and $2 million next year for Kruger, even though it’s taking on his full $3.08 million cap hits.
The Golden Knights get an absolute defensive stud in Kruger, who regularly took on brutal defensive assignments with the Blackhawks only to put up respectable possession numbers. He’s never been much of a scorer despite showing that potential at a younger age, but his defensive work was so impressive that it was forgivable given the way Joel Quenneville used his lines.
Vegas currently has several options at center, including KHL import Vadim Shipachyov. They also added Cody Eakin, Jonathan Marchessault, Oscar Lindberg, and William Karlsson in the expansion draft. Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant will have some choices to make up the middle next season.
It’ll be interesting to see how Kruger performs on a new team, and the Golden Knights should be thrilled to have a good penalty killer and two-way forward to drive possession on the bottom six. Last season, he had five goals and 12 assists in 70 regular season games.
Kruger recorded 33 goals and 72 assists in 398 regular season games with the Blackhawks. He also put up six goals and 10 assists in 87 postseason games, winning two Stanley Cups in the process. He was originally drafted by the team in the fifth round (No. 149 overall) of the 2009 NHL draft.