Restricted free-agent forward Marcus Kruger would agree to a short-term contract with the Chicago Blackhawks if they’re unable to clear enough salary-cap space to afford a long-term deal, according to a source.
“[Kruger] will stay patient as long as [he] can,” the source said on Monday.
The Blackhawks and Kruger have been in contract negotiations since late June. Kruger has asked for a long-term deal, but the Blackhawks currently do not have enough cap space to afford it.
The Blackhawks are still expected to make a trade or two before the season begins. The Blackhawks are already near the cap’s ceiling without Kruger being signed. They have $70,430,962 committed to 21 projected NHL roster players and also have a $750,000 bonus overage from last season. Next season’s salary cap is $71.4 million.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said recently he was hopeful to re-sign Kruger before training camp in September.
“I think with all our players, you want to have them signed before camp,” Bowman said on July 17. “I think it’s always ideal to have your guys with as much preparation as possible. We’re working towards that and ultimately we’ll see how the timing works out.”
Kruger, 25, led Blackhawks forwards in penalty-kill ice time and had seven goals and 10 assists in 81 regular-season games last season. He also had two goals, two assists and averaged 15:06 of ice time during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run. He has been a part of two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks and has played in 287 regular-season games over the past five seasons.