I guess we can say the final piece to the puzzle is now locked in. On Friday the Chicago Blackhawks came to terms with their lone remaining restricted free agent, Marcus Kruger. In fact he really is the only free agent left because many suspect that Jamal Mayers will retire.
Kruger and the team agreed on a new two-year deal just hours after GM Stan Bowman said he expected something to happen in the next few days. The agreement came just hours after the Hawks concluded their annual prospect camp.
Financial details have not yet been released. Kruger made $900,000 last season and I would expect him to get something in the range of $1.5 million, maybe $1.75 at the most. That will leave the team with about a million dollars in cap space.
The deal could come in at even less than that because Kruger had no real leverage. He wasn't eligible for arbitration so he could either sign an offer sheet with another team or return to Europe. With free agency already a week old it was clear that he wasn't signing an offer sheet with anyone else.
Keeping Kruger became a big priority after the trades of Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik. Kruger had paired with Frolik most of the season on the penalty kill and were the top pairing for Coach Joel Quenneville. With the departure of Bolland is might finally provide Kruger a chance to move up to second or third line center.
Keeping Kruger means the Hawks have only lost five players off their championship teams. Along with Bolland, Frolik and Mayers, they lost Ray Emery and Viktor Stalberg thru free agency. After the 2010 championship the Hawks had to say goodbye to half the team.
The Hawks will now look within for replacements. Ben Smith, Brandon Pirri, Jeremey Morin and Jimmy Hayes should all be in the running for roster spots this fall.
Now Bowman can look towards extending Coach Q and possibly Corey Crawford and Niklas Hjalmarsson. All three of their contracts are up next summer.