Ex-Blackhawk Marcus Kruger traded to Coyotes in unusual mid-postseason deal

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Kruger played six years with the Blackhawks.| Rick Scuteri/AP Photo

The Coyotes acquired forward Marcus Kruger and a 2018 third-round pick from the Hurricanes for forward Jordan Martinook and a 2018 fourth-round pick in an unusual mid-playoff deal, the teams announced Thursday.

The Hurricanes are also retaining 10 percent of Kruger’s $3.08 million cap hit, so the Coyotes will be on the hook for $2.772 million in cap space.

It’s not often that you see two teams, even non-playoff teams, make a deal during the NHL postseason, but Carolina and Arizona began their offseason work early.

Kruger, a former member of the Blackhawks, has one year remaining on the deal he originally signed with Chicago in 2016. He was dealt twice last summer – first to Vegas, then to Carolina – after the Hawks decided they could no longer afford paying such a lucrative cap hit to a fourth-line center.

The Hurricanes opened the 2017-18 season with Kruger filling that same role in their lineup, but he played only 48 games before the team placed him on waivers. He cleared a day later and spent the rest of the season with the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, where he recorded eight points in 19 games.

It’s a major fall from grace for Kruger, who played a key role on Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015. He became known for his defensive ability in the bottom six and on the penalty kill.

For the Coyotes, adding Kruger is about budgeting and asset management more than anything. The forward pushes the Coyotes closer to the salary cap minimum with his cap hit, but he’s only due $2.3 million in actual compensation. And because the Hurricanes wanted to get most of the cap hit off their hands, they sweetened the pot by taking a fourth-round pick for a third-round pick.

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