Yet another one of the young Chicago Blackhawks players, that used the lockout to refine his game, Marcus Kruger, a great season as a role player.
During the 2011-2012 season, Kruger was being forced into just about every forward role that the Hawks needed help in. He struggled as a second line center, and had flashes of being a solid defensive forward. Kruger spent the lockout in Rockford, playing in the AHL, for the IceHogs, as he tried to focus, and refine his defensive skills.
Once the lockout was over, Kruger had a defined role as a fourth line center, and penalty killer, waiting for him. While no longer trying to fill every hole that the Hawks had, and no longer playing out of his comfort zone, Kruger excelled.
While he didn’t put up big points, in 2013, Kruger had a very good season as a reliable defensive minded center, on the fourth line, as well as a crucial penalty killer, on the Hawks especially stingy penalty killing unit. Kruger’s emergence on the penalty kill, may have also made Dave Bolland more expendable, for the Hawks. The fact that Bolland did in fact get traded, most certainly means Kruger will be relied on bit for, in the 2013-2014 season.
Now that Kruger has found solid footing on the Hawks’ roster, and earned a 2-year contract extension, I expect him to take another step forward in his development, but nothing dramatic. The Hawks don’t need a huge step forward from Kruger, just the fact that he is consistently progressing will be good enough.
My prediction for Marcus Kruger(in 82 games):
Goals-13 Assists-20 Points-33
I expect Kruger to produce a little bit more offensively, as he continues to establish himself in the NHL, and because of a likely expanded role in the upcoming season. I don’t expect a dramatic surge in production, but keep in mind, that Kruger isn’t going to be evaluated based on offensive production. He will be evaluated on his grinding, defensive game, as well as penalty killing. All of which I also expect him to improve on at least slightly, this season.
What do you predict for Marcus Kruger?