Though it’s not often you see a trade go down during the playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes have traded Marcus Kruger and a 2018 third-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Jordan Martinook and a 2018 fourth-round pick. Carolina will also retain 10% of Kruger’s salary in 2018-19.
There are a few things to break down in this trade, not the least of which being that the Hurricanes made the deal despite not having a GM in place. While owner Thomas Dundon continues to search for the next person to lead his hockey club, Don Waddell is operating as interim GM, along with help from his old friend Rick Dudley who was hired recently.
The second is that the Hurricanes won’t really be saving much salary in the swap. Though Kruger carries a $3.08MM cap hit, the actual salary owed to him next season is just $2.3MM. Martinook himself is set to earn $1.8MM, and with the added 10% the two notoriously cheap teams come off spending about the same amount. Instead, from Carolina’s point of view this deal seems to be ridding themselves of a forward that they had no plans on using next season. After all, Kruger had already cleared waivers earlier this season.
That fact is another interesting thing to note in the deal, as Kruger was available to any team earlier this year when the Hurricanes waived and then sent him to the minor leagues. The 27-year old center ended up playing just 48 games for Carolina, scoring six points in the process and generally being ineffective. Some of that might have to do with the hernia that Craig Morgan of AZ Sports reports he recently had surgery on, which had been “nagging him a while.”
If Kruger can return to the 25-point depth center that he once was in Chicago, the Coyotes will have a useful player on their hands that can help the penalty kill and add some experience. If he can’t find that level, they still move their draft pick up a round in exchange for Martinook, who may have not had role with the team next season anyway.
In all, this is a swap of two contracts that didn’t have much of a future in their previous organizations. Perhaps Kruger can find his game again in Arizona alongside former teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson, and maybe Martinook can be a useful depth player. We’ll have to wait to see how the rest of the offseason shakes out to really see what each team had planned.