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Chicago Blackhawks: Where’s Marcus Kruger?

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The Chicago Blackhawks have had quite the summer, needing to move some bigger names like Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad in order to get under the salary cap for the 2015-16 season. At the present, the ’Hawks have $356,000 in cap space.

Some out there might think that is good, that they are able to get under the cap without having to do much more. Enter Marcus Kruger. The young Swedish center is still unsigned by the ’Hawks and is waiting for Stan Bowman and Co. to figure out its cap situation. Kruger is a restricted free agent, giving the ’Hawks a bit more time to work on this issue.

Kruger has said that he wants a long-term contract, but recently admitted that he would be open to signing a one-year deal if it meant being able to return to Chicago. Getting Kruger back for this season is important, as he is a key to the penalty kill and provides center depth that the ’Hawks haven’t had in a while. No one would argue the importance of the ’Hawks’ forth line in these recent playoffs, and it was Kruger leading that unit.

For Kruger to come back, some money needs to be moved. And we know the names: Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg. Those are the two likely candidates to be packing their bags and heading elsewhere. The calendar has flipped to August, leaving Bowman two months to make a trade and get back a key part for next season in Kruger.

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The hockey world has hit its lull. Training camp doesn’t start until September, so at any moment news could break regarding Kruger’s signing or a trade to free up cap space. There’s no question that Kruger will be back next season. If a team really wanted him, they could have given him an offer sheet by now, putting the pressure on the ’Hawks. That hasn’t happened, which makes it a matter of time before the trade happens and Kruger is back in the fold.

So while we are all enjoying the final couple of weeks of summer, be ready. At any moment during the quiet time of year, Bowman could be working on getting all of this done. Bickell/Versteeg sent out, Kruger brought back in and the ’Hawks roster finally taking shape for next season. It’s been a bumpy summer, with moves that haven’t been the best-case scenarios. Soon all of that will be over, the roster will be finalized and everybody can get back to focusing on what really matters: this team trying to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. All the talk will go out the window, and the focus can go back to the game of hockey.

Next: Blackhawks Top Prospects, Part I

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