Marcus Kruger has been placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes. If Stan Bowman is smart, he will keep away from this reunion.
Stan Bowman has been known to get the band back together. Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, Johnny Oduya, Brian Campbell, Patrick Sharp, and Brandon Saad are all players who have left the Blackhawks during Bowman’s tenure, only to return a year or two later.
Naturally, when the news broke today that the Carolina Hurricanes had placed Marcus Kruger on waivers, a portion of Blackhawks fans went to Twitter and other social media to put out their support of bringing the center back to the Windy City.
As nice as reunions can be, picking Kruger off waivers is not the right move for Bowman and the ‘Hawks this year.
Let’s put aside the stats of how Blackhawks players returning to the team have faired in their second stint (just know they were not good). Kruger is a different player than any of them and those stats mean very little to future moves. Just because the second stint for the aforementioned players were poor does not dictate that Kruger would do poorly returning to Chicago.
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More importantly, it is that Kruger does not have much to offer the Blackhawks to warrant the paycheck he receives; a paycheck, if you recall, Stan Bowman originally gave to the forward.
This is not to say that Kruger has no value at all. He is a shut-down center that was fantastic on the penalty kill while wearing a ‘Hawks sweater. He is a 55.4 percent at face-offs in 48 games with the Hurricanes this season; a percentage that only Jonathan Toews could beat on the current Chicago roster. He has a 54 percent Corsi-for, showing that when he is on the ice there are more shots for the Hurricanes than their opponents.
And yes, if I am nostalgic for just a moment, one of my favorite moments from the 2015 Stanley Cup run just happens to be a Kruger goal:
But Kruger’s cap hit is $3.083 million a year and he has another year remaining on that deal after this season. It was this contract that had Kruger leaving Chicago in the first place when, just this past offseason, the Blackhawks shipped Kruger away to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for the never-exciting “future considerations.”
The Blackhawks look like anything but a playoff team right now and Kruger is not going to be the jolt that sends the ‘Hawks on a ten game winning streak. He would simply be a solid fourth-line center that wins some draws and helps the team defensively. He is not the answer to righting this ship and is certainly not cheap enough to consider as a decent depth move.
The Blackhawks are in good position to make some changes this summer to try and fix up the current roster, as laid out brilliantly by Satchel Price from Second City Hockey. Adding $3.083 million from Kruger to the salary cap is the wrong move. If Bowman is even considering a reunion with Kruger, he should be planning it in the summer of 2019 when he could be signed to a much more reasonable contract; that is if Bowman can resist over-paying for Kruger a second time.