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Chicago Blackhawks’ Kruger, Shaw Odd Trade Bait Choices

By Colin Likas
Nov 20, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) skates against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) skates against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Would The Chicago Blackhawks Trade Marcus Kruger Or Andrew Shaw?

After the Chicago Blackhawks traded Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes last week, the next move appeared to be re-signing Andrew Shaw to some sort of deal. That’s actually what the Blackhawks indicated was next on their to-do list.

First, however, came the signing of Nick Schmaltz to his entry-level contract. Then came a rumor the Blackhawks had “kicked the tires” on a trade for Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. And now, we’ve got the possibility of Marcus Kruger and Shaw not being Blackhawks next season.

That last part comes from this tweet yesterday by the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc:

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The NHL draft begins tomorrow as well, so things are certainly going to be interesting over the next couple days. It’s not impossible that either or both of Kruger and Shaw would be on the move, but I do find it strange considering what his happened up to this point.

Starting with Shaw, the Bickell-Teuvo trade seemed to be made with a focus on the goal of re-signing Shaw. Stan Bowman moved Bickell’s $4 million cap hit and was willing to sacrifice a promising young talent in Teuvo to do so, and Shaw was the guy (and probably still is) at the top of the Blackhawks’ “To sign” list of free agents.

So the idea of moving Shaw less than two weeks after that — after the team explicitly said it was working feverishly toward a deal with the forward — would seem to indicate Shaw’s camp is asking for too much money. There’s very little chance the team suddenly soured on him as a player in less than two weeks’ time.

However, the Blackhawks’ front office really should’ve been well aware of what Shaw might’ve asked for in payment this offseason. And it certainly should’ve been aware of that before jettisoning Teuvo just to get Bickell’s cap hit off the books. But maybe this wasn’t the case.

Moving on to Kruger, it’s even more strange the Blackhawks would be looking to move him. Kruger was given a last-moment one-year deal before the 2015-16 season with the understanding a longer deal would follow. Not only did that happen with a three-year, $9 million contract, the Blackhawks also traded Kruger’s heir apparent in Phillip Danault around the same time.

And now they want to be left without Kruger and Danault, and with no immediate conceivable replacement for the defensive center who turns the ice and holds back the opponent’s toughest competition? That’s a very strange assessment of what your team needs to be successful.

Now here’s the thing. Kruger is no offensive dynamo, and Shaw will likely come down from what was probably a career year offensively in 2015-16. What you get for either one of them separately is kind of up in the air because of the very specific traits they display on the ice. You’re not going to plug Kruger into a top six somewhere, and you’d only do that for Shaw in specific situations.

So the idea of packaging them together in a deal next comes to mind, and that also brings to mind Malkin. First of all, I have no idea why the Blackhawks are interested in Malkin. If you have to ship out three guys and a pick or something like that to get him, you’re not making the team better, no matter how much talent Malkin has.

Second, the Penguins are never trading Malkin for Shaw, Kruger and some sort of pick. Artem Anisimov would have to go in that deal. Brent Seabrook would possibly have to go in that deal. You’re essentially making your team worse to make your top six look really good. That worked alright for the Penguins late in the 2015-16 season, but it only worked because that group was really hot down the stretch and into the postseason.

Could Shaw and Kruger be packaged into obtaining someone else? Probably, but the result would be underwhelming. We’re not talking about acquiring P.K. Subban here. So what’s the point of moving a guy who you essentially moved Teuvo to re-sign and a guy whose immediate backup you traded last season? It doesn’t really add up.

Trading them individually would result in an addition of draft picks or players who wouldn’t be an amazing boost to the Blackhawks. You already went all in on Kruger, and you’re screwing yourself longer term by backing out now. You pretty much went all in on re-signing Shaw, and now you look like you didn’t know what to expect from his contract demands by trying to move him.

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It’s just a strange situation, and it could all be chatter. Kruger and Shaw are far from irreplaceable, but moving them under the current circumstances would be very strange. It’d have to be done for something that obviously makes the Blackhawks better in the immediate term. I’m just not sure how that happens by moving both of these guys after what has already transpired.

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