One of the Blackhawks’ top defensive specialists will continue to twist in the wind.
On Monday, Marcus Kruger’s agent, J.P. Barry, told the Chicago Tribune his client is prepared to remain unsigned until GM Stan Bowman figures out the team’s cap situation.
In an email to the Tribune on Monday, Barry wrote that “we will be patient” while Bowman looks for ways to make room.
As a restricted free agent who did not receive an offer sheet from another team, Kruger does not have many options. Barry said if the cap space does not become available in the next month or so, Kruger “will have no choice later in August but to do a shorter deal.”
Kruger, 25, didn’t file for arbitration in the hope of trying to secure a long-term deal in Chicago.
Though hardly an offensive dynamo — he scored seven goals and 17 points in 81 games last season, then four more in 23 playoff games — Kruger is a key contributor both defensively and on the penalty kill; no Blackhawks forward had more shorthanded ice time during the postseason, and no forward blocked more shots (20).
Per war-on-ice.com, the ‘Hawks are roughly $400,000 over the $71.4 million salary cap, and are able to remain a maximum of 10 percent over during the offseason.
It’s been rumored the club is trying to jettison Bryan Bickell and his $4 million cap hit, but has yet to find any takers.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
David Backes spent three years playing at Minnesota State-Mankato and, now, he and wife Kelly are donating $100,000 for the final renovations to the school’s Verizon Wireless Center hockey upgrades. (Mankato Free Press)
Jake Gyllenhaal remembers “crying on the kitchen counter” when his parents made him pass on the starring role in the original Mighty Ducks movie. His loss was Joshua Jackson’s gain. (Puck Daddy)
More movie-related news: Tyler Seguin is taking acting classes and has a cameo in the upcoming sequel to the 2011 flick Goon, titled “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.” (Dallas Morning News)
Buffalo has signed its second-round pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Brendan Guhle, to an entry-level contract. (WGRZ Buffalo)
LA Kings assistant GM Rob Blake had high praise for Jordan Weal, who starred for AHL Manchester last season and won Calder Cup MVP. (Frozen Royalty)
Nikolai Antropov, a veteran of nearly 800 NHL contests that last played for Winnipeg in ’13, could be eyeing a North American return.
Per Russian outlet Sport Express, Antropov’s agent, Shumi Babaev, said his client is mulling a NHL comeback rather than re-sign with KHL club Barys Astana.
The 35-year-old scored 21 points in 39 games last year for Barys, his second season with the team.
It remains to be seen how serious this “comeback” is. Antropov would be intriguing on a couple of fronts: One, he’s still 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. Two, his last year with the Jets was pretty decent — 15 goals and 35 points in 69 games.
He also has a son, Daniel, that’s currently playing high-level minor hockey in Toronto for the Don Mills Flyers program, so it’s not that hard to fathom him wanting to return.
All that said, it’s tough to see any team making a huge play for Antropov, who turns 36 in February and was never considered the fastest skater. That said, another veteran European — Ruslan Fedotenko — returned from a one-year stint in the KHL last season, and caught on with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate last season.