Analysis

Blackhawks 2016-17 Over/Under: Marcus Kruger

By Mario Tirabassi
May 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) takes a face off against Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu (9) during the second period in game one of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) takes a face off against Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu (9) during the second period in game one of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the regular season begins in just a couple of weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to improve on their early exit last season. The team kicks off training camp at Johnny’s Icehouse in Chicago on September 23. Over the next few weeks, Blackhawk Up will give projections for the stats of each player heading into the season, based off the trend of past three seasons, career averages, and potential line-mate projections. 

Will Kruger Live Up To His New Contract With Chicago?

There are some big question marks for the 2016-17 Chicago Blackhawks. One that is flying relatively under the radar is what will Marcus Kruger‘s role be? For the better part of his time in Chicago, Kruger has been a bottom-six Center that focuses on being a defensive asset and plays a big role on the penalty-killing unit. 

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But during a lack-luster and injury plagued 2015-16 season for Kruger, the Blackhawks made a bold decision to sign him to a three-year, $9.25 million extension and subsequently trade Philip Danault, who had replaced Kruger in the lineup during his injury.

The question for the Blackhawks now becomes, do you really spend over $3 million a season on a fourth-line, defensive center?

Historically, Kruger has always lived up to his role as a defensive asset and when he contributes to the offensive side of things, it’s a plus. But coming into 2016-17, Kruger faces the issue of his true value to the organization and questions surrounding the health and effectiveness of the wrist that kept him out for half of the 2015-16 season.

Check it out: Blackhawks 2016-17 Over/Under For Marian Hossa

Factors

Last Three Seasons:

  • 2013-14: 81 GP – 8g, 20a, 28Pts, +6, 13:52 TOI
  • 2014-15: 81 GP – 7g, 10a, 17Pts, -5, 13:05 TOI
  • 2015-16: 41 GP – 0g, 4a, 4Pts, -5, 13:31 TOI

Career Average:

  • 82 Game AVG: 6g, 15a, 21Pts, +2, 13:58 TOI

Potential Line-mates:

Projection: 10G, 19A, 29Pts

These numbers project higher than Kruger’s usual season average and would be similar to his 2013-14 season.

If he is used as a third-line Center for the majority or entirety of the season, Kruger will have the responsibility of producing more offense, play with line-mates that are more offensively gifted, and will be receiving more significant ice-time. If these factors come into play, Kruger could very well meet and/or exceed these statistics.

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Writer Prediction: Under 

As much as it would be beneficial to the Blackhawks to use Kruger as more than just a penalty-killer and defensive Center, it’s hard to give him a higher responsibility without having played in a similar role, successfully, in the past.

One factor that is a cause for concern is the health of Kruger’s wrist. His face-off percentage dropped off a cliff in 2015-16 (49.2%) compared to his previous two seasons (13-14 – 56.7%, 14-15 – 53.3%) and even though he returned from injury towards the end of the season, it was evident that his capabilities at the dot were affected.

If that trend continues, Kruger will continue to play on Chicago’s fourth-line. Therefore, Marcus Kruger’s 2016-17 point projection is 29 points.

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