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Friday, July 12, 2013
Marcus Kruger stays with Hawks

By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks agreed to terms on a two-year deal with restricted free agent Marcus Kruger on Friday.

The 23-year-old Kruger, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the fifth round in 2009, has appeared in 125 regular-season games for the Blackhawks in the past three seasons. He had four goals, nine assists and a plus-3 rating in 47 regular-season games last season and had three goals, two assists and a minus-2 rating in 23 playoff games.

Kruger played mostly at center on the fourth line and was a key member of the penalty-killing unit last season. The Blackhawks ranked third in the league with an 87.2 penalty-killing percentage (18 goals in 141 chances) in the regular season and had a 90.8 percentage (seven goals in 67 chances) in the playoffs.

"Marcus had a great season for us," general manager Stan Bowman said on Friday. "I think when we brought him over we kind of expected this role for him. Looking at his progression over the last two seasons, I'm not surprised he has done that. This is really what we liked when we drafted him. He's a very tenacious player, and I think he's very smart. He's gained some strength over the last couple years, which has allowed him to play against better players and stronger players.

"I think his ability to help us in a lot of different ways -- he played some wing for us in the playoffs and a lot of center during the regular season. He was a big part of the penalty killing. That's sort of his profile going forward -- a versatile defender, and he's worked on his offensive game a little bit. Looking into next year, I think his role is only to get better."

The Blackhawks' offseason has included re-signing forwards Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus and defensemen Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy, signing goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, and trading away forwards Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik for draft picks.

Bowman said Friday he doesn't expect to make any other major moves during the offseason and likely will add depth to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.