While details are currently spotty for this trade, the Chicago Blackhawks have reportedly sent Marcus Kruger to the Las Vegas Golden Knights for a third round pick. With that information provided from varying twitter accounts lets analyze this trade for both teams.
Vegas will be a defensive minded team, as scorers are hard to find in the expansion draft. Depth defensemen, and talented two way forwards are harder to justify protecting for teams, making many available for the Golden Knights. This makes Kruger a great fit for Vegas, as he often played tough minutes for the Blackhawks on top of playing on their penalty kill. As far as two way forwards go, he can stack a defensive lineup.
The Blackhawks signed Kruger to a large contract early on, and with little statistical support in terms of points, it is hard to justify DRAFTING Kruger. But because he was recieved in a trade, Vegas is able to select another player from Chicago in the expansion draft, further ensuring more cap space for the Blackhawks. This would be considered a win-win, as they truly wanted to get rid of Kruger’s contract.
He’s clearly more valuable than the replacement-level bottom six forwards who put up poor possession numbers. Kruger always stands out as a fantastic player defensively, and the Hawks clearly showed how much they value him with his contract extension. But the Blackhawks need to figure out how to stay below the salary cap with Artemi Panarin getting a big raise, and moving Kruger’s cap hit is going to be one of the prime options to ensure that happens.
Kruger is paid $3.08 million when he has 32 points in his last 167 games, so point wise, he’s not going to be a scorer in Vegas.
His penalty-killing ability further adds to what makes him so difficult to replace. But he’s also a low-scoring forward who makes millions on a team with little flexibility, and that ultimately makes him more expendable than the guys who score the goals.
This is a mutually beneficial trade for the Golden Knights and the Blackhawks, as Vegas acquires a gritty tough forward, and Chicago clears some cap space to ensure their stacked roster remains the same.
More to come.