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Chicago Blackhawks: Kruger Signing May Be Near

By Colin Likas

There are two things Chicago Blackhawks fans would like to be resolved in the near future. One of those is a situation so unclear and convoluted — the rape investigation surrounding Patrick Kane — that’s it’s currently uncertain when or how it might be resolved. The other is the re-signing of fourth-line center Marcus Kruger.

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Kruger is the only major player from last season’s Stanley-Cup-winning team whose future in Chicago is not secure at this time. However, it appears that may change as soon as this weekend.

Jay Zawaski of 670 The Score tweeted today that a salary-dump trade and Kruger’s re-signing could both occur very soon, “perhaps even today.” He did not indicate who might be involved in such a trade, though we’ve thrown several names around Blackhawk Up for that situation. He also did not indicate the expected cap hit for Kruger’s potential new contract, but further clarified that the salary dump would be used to get Kruger in the fold and keep the Blackhawks cap compliant (I’d sure hope so).

When pressed for more details, Zawaski jokingly (or not?) tweeted “I’d rather just keep them all to myself.” So what he reported this morning is either all he knows, or whoever he has talked with about this has informed him to keep the information leak to a minimum at risk of losing that source.

And whatever source(s) he has in or around the Blackhawks organization is/are a good one(s). Remember, Zawaski indicated when no one else seemed to have an inkling that Brandon Saad and the Blackhawks were further apart in contract discussions than was previously believed at the time, and that Saad may be moved via trade. He’s not the most out-there reporter on Blackhawks news, but he seems to have a few fingers to the team’s heartbeat at all times.

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This report is more of an indication that what we’ve been waiting for may finally be happening, but it does leave questions. What would Kruger’s new cap hit be should the two sides come to an agreement? Who are the Blackhawks moving? And to where? Regardless of the answers to those last two questions, the Blackhawks won’t get much in return; that’s part of the point of a salary dump trade. Another question: How much cap space would the Blackhawks have after a salary dump and re-signing Kruger? Enough to add a veteran defenseman?

Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg have been names frequently tossed around in discussions about a move or moves to get the Blackhawks in position to sign Kruger. Jeremy Morin, Ryan Garbutt and even Andrew Shaw are also options, as Chicago now has a surplus of forwards thanks to Stan Bowman’s offseason maneuverings. There’s always the chance another prized prospect gets thrown in as a sweetener, which would be another blow to the Blackhawks and their future. But the re-signing of Kruger is really of the utmost importance to this team, especially after the nasty offseason it has gone through so far.

I think the cap hit for Kruger will be about $2.5 million per year at two to three years, but who could be tossed overboard in a salary dump trade is anyone’s guess. I’d say one of Bickell or Versteeg goes (leaning Bickell), and after that, it might just be picking names from a hat.

Who do you think the Blackhawks would move in a salary dump trade? And what do you think Kruger could earn from Chicago through a new contract? Let us know in the comments section.

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