Marcus Kruger

Big contingent of former Blackhawks helping each other settle in with Hurricanes


Big contingent of former Blackhawks helping each other settle in with Hurricanes

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The names of former Blackhawks dotted the Carolina Hurricanes locker room, making those who are here now a lot more comfortable.

“Even Dahly, who was my roommate in Rockford, so we go way back,” said Scott Darling, referring to former Blackhawks defenseman Klas Dahlbeck. “Six of us from Chicago? It’s definitely huge off the ice, definitely makes the transition easier.”

The Hurricanes are the latest team to have a big influx of former Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks on their roster. There are, indeed, six there now: Joakim Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen were already there when Darling (rights traded from Chicago), Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk (acquired through the Vegas Golden Knights) arrived over the summer. Dahlbeck was picked up off waivers in October. Off the ice it’s about transitioning to new surroundings. On the ice, the former Blackhawks bring a winning pedigree that the Hurricanes have tried to feed off.

“They’ve had a lot of success in their careers and a lot of them are still young. They’ve been there, they know what it takes,” Carolina forward Jeff Skinner said. “For us in the locker room, anyone who hasn’t [won the Cup], it’s a good opportunity to learn from those guys.”

Hurricanes coach Bill Peters, who coached the IceHogs from 2008-11, said the new acquisitions have been adjusting on and off the ice.

“They’re getting their feet wet. It’s an adjustment period, getting into Raleigh and getting settled in. Once that becomes second nature it allows you to concentrate on simply playing hockey,” he said. “We all know they’re very qualified hockey players. We like the additions we made in the summer and they’re starting to pay off. Guys are settling in and getting comfortable in the way they have to play for us to be successful as a team.”

The Hurricanes are trying to get back among the NHL’s best, and bringing in some of those guys doesn’t hurt. The start of this season, however, the Hurricanes and Blackhawks have been similar in other ways: both teams have gotten good-to-great goaltending, both teams have struggled to score and both know they should be higher in the standings.

“Was hoping for more points than we have so far,” Kruger said. “We’ve had chances to get more and we’ve been giving up [goals] late in games. Hopefully we can just get some victories in a row and build some confidence because I think that’s what we’re lacking right now, especially at the end of games. We’ve been playing well but we have to play well for the whole game. That’s what we’re trying to do here now.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk agreed that overall confidence will get there.

“Especially early on in the year you’re trying to get the confidence in your game and that confidence when it’s tight and it’s late,” he said. “I think we have a lot of guys who are confident in their abilities but just getting those reps and game experience. When you get those wins, there’s nothing like that. You build on it. Throughout the year you just pick up things that you did or didn’t do and hopefully that translates into wins along the way.”

The Hurricanes have had some growing pains this early season. It’s to be expected for a team that has a good amount of youth. But the Blackhawks they acquired have brought a winning pedigree and Carolina hopes it helps build the Hurricanes into a consistent winner again.

“The main thing is [to] learn from them like you would any other teammate but obviously they have a little something more to offer than most guys,” Skinner said of the former Blackhawks. “It’s been fun getting to know them, getting to play with them, and hopefully we can continue to build something good here.”

Days after trade with Blackhawks, Vegas Golden Knights flip Marcus Kruger to Carolina

Days after trade with Blackhawks, Vegas Golden Knights flip Marcus Kruger to Carolina

Las Vegas is quite the destination, but apparently not for former Blackhawks.

Marcus Kruger, who the Vegas Golden Knights acquired on Sunday, was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday morning. The expansion team got the Hurricanes’ fifth-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft for the former Blackhawks center.

A few hours after Kruger was traded to Vegas, SportsNet’s John Shannon tweeted, “On Kruger trade, someone should tell Marcus not to unpack. Team has yet to decide if he stays or gets dealt.” And here we are.

Kruger’s the second Blackhawks player the Knights have immediately flipped to the Hurricanes. After selecting Trevor van Riemsdyk in the NHL expansion draft on June 21, Vegas traded the defenseman and its 2018 seventh-round pick to Carolina for the Hurricanes’ No. 62 overall pick in this year’s draft.

The Hurricanes continue to be the latest destination for former Blackhawks. Currently, Kruger, van Riemsdyk, Scott Darling, Joakim Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen are part of the main roster. Bryan Bickell was with the team last season.

Blackhawks trade Marcus Kruger to Vegas Golden Knights

Blackhawks trade Marcus Kruger to Vegas Golden Knights

Marcus Kruger’s name has been tied to trade possibilities for several weeks now. While he wasn’t sent to the Vegas Golden Knights at the expansion draft, it was expected he would be dealt to the NHL’s newest team eventually to help alleviate the Blackhawks’ cap issues.

On Sunday, he was.

The Blackhawks sent Kruger to Vegas for future considerations. It was another cap move for a team that signed several players, including Patrick Sharp, on Saturday. A team can spend 10 percent over the cap from now until the day the regular season begins. It’s expected the Blackhawks will put Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve once the season begins, which would also give them more wiggle room at that time.

As for now, the Blackhawks had to make more tough moves. Cash-wise, they rid themselves of Kruger’s $3.08 million cap hit for this and next season. Personnel-wise they lose another center center – Dennis Rasmussen, who was not given a qualifying offer last week, is gone, too. Kruger was also a reliable penalty killer. He had been steadily improving in faceoffs, peaking in the 2013-14 season when he won 56.7 percent of his draws. But after missing the second half of the 2015-16 season with a broken wrist, his faceoff numbers fell below 50 percent.

“We thank Marcus for his many contributions to our team—most notably, two Stanley Cup Championships,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “His work ethic, reliability and strength as a two-way player made him a valuable member of the organization. We wish him the best with Vegas.”