Rumors are swirling around the NHL that Chicago and Las Vegas have been working a deal that would have Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk heading to Las Vegas. While details aren’t finalized, it is thought that one of the two would be traded with the other being selected during the expansion draft. Many expected the Hawks to lose van Riemsdyk before next season, either through the expansion draft or via a trade. Assuming the Hawks were to trade van Riemsdyk, the Hawks would be expected to protect Toews, Kane, Hossa, Anisimov, Kruger (all with no movement clauses), Panik and Hartman up front. This would leave Tootoo, Rozsival, and Jeff Glass as the only options for Las Vegas in the expansion draft, with none of these options being very appealing. The general logic behind this deal is that Vegas would get a solid expansion draft pick in van Riemsdyk to fill the 2nd defensive pairing as well as a seasoned shut-down penalty killing center in Kruger. While Kruger was the third line center for most of last season, with the right circumstances you could see Kruger moving up to the second line for Vegas and potentially up his offensive production. If this sounds familiar to anyone, just look back to last season when the Hawks traded Bickell’s $4MM cap hit, with Teuvo Teravainen, to Carolina for a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick. While this worked out for Chicago with neither player contributing much in the 2017/18 season (Bickell due to his MS diagnosis in November), Teravainen (42 points in 81 games) still has a lot of upside potential at 21 years old.
Kruger and Van Riemsdyk have a salary cap hit of about $3.9MM (thanks to Cap Friendly) for the 2017/18 season. It is projected that with this move, Chicago would be compliant with the $73MM salary cap by bringing some young talent up to the roster. The salary cap is Chicago’s biggest hurdle to creating a deep roster for this upcoming season, and some believe that they need to move another big cap hitting player (Hjalmarsson or Crawford) to free up additional cap space to fill a few holes. Since Byfuglien was traded a few years ago, the Hawks have not had a large physical player, which hurt them during the Nashville series this year. While Hjalmarsson is a favorite of Coach Q, his $4.1MM salary cap hit in 2017/18 could open up options for Stan Bowman to make some additional moves this summer or prevent a fourth year of salary dumps during summer 2018.