Chicago Blackhawks Reality Check: What Marcus Krüger Is Doing in Chicago
On Wednesday morning, the Chicago Blackhawks officially recalled 20-year-old Marcus Krüger from the Swedish Elite League. He will wear No. 16 and will play on Wednesday night when the Hawks host the Florida Panthers at the United Center.
Those are facts.
Now let's kill some ridiculous speculation and empty analysis with a swift dose of reality.
This move was in the works since before Patrick Sharp went down and is in no way a response to the Hawks losing their top goal scorer.
Indeed, sources have indicated that center Dave Bolland's season is in doubt (read: it's over), and Krüger will give the Hawks center depth in his place.
Krüger will play center. There have never been and will never be thoughts of moving a player with the skills of Krüger to wing.
Speaking of Krüger's skills, those are why he's coming to Chicago. He was signed to an entry-level deal in June of last year because he is a smooth two-way center with soft hands and great vision. I attended the Blackhawks' prospect camp in July, and Krüger stood out as one of the most hockey-mature players there.
He showed a willingness to go into corners and fight for a puck, showed an exceptional concept of space on the ice and, while not at the same level as someone like Patrick Kane, will make passes that many players don't even see as a possibility.
In February, Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald wrote a look forward at the top prospect in the Blackhawks organization. In that piece, he mentions that Bowman wanted Krüger to be part of the Blackhawks roster this season, but Krüger wanted another season in Sweden. Bowman describes Krüger as a Bolland-like player.
The differences between Bolland and Krüger are the secondary reason he's here now: Krüger is younger and cheaper.
In February (before Chris Campoli was acquired), I took at look at the Blackhawks' salary cap situation moving forward. The reported demise of the defending champions in the wake of Brent Seabrook's five-year contract is laughably uninformed.
Krüger has enormous upside and, like defenseman Nick Leddy, is good enough to be in the NHL at a young age. Based on his ability and Bowman's comments, there's a very good chance that Krüger would have been on his way to Chicago at this point in the year whether Bolland was healthy or not; the health of Chicago's roster will have more bearing on his ice time than him being in North America.
When he makes his debut on Wednesday night, look for Krüger to be skating between Marian Hossa and Michael Frolik on the second line, or between Bryan Bickell and Troy Brouwer on the third line for Chicago.
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