George McPhee isn’t taking a break this offseason. Not even on his birthday.
The Golden Knights’ general manager, who celebrated his 59th birthday Sunday, acquired hard-working center Marcus Kruger from Chicago for future considerations in a long-rumored deal.
The trade gives the Knights a veteran defensive specialist and standout penalty killer while helping the Blackhawks get under the NHL’s $75 million salary cap.
The 27-year-old Kruger had five goals and 12 points along with 34 penalty minutes in 70 games last season.
He totaled 33 goals and 72 assists and won 50.4 percent of his faceoffs in seven seasons (398 career games) with the Blackhawks.
Kruger (6 feet, 186 pounds) was drafted by Chicago in the fifth round in 2009 and won two Stanley Cups with the team.
He scored a memorable triple-overtime goal in Game 2 of the 2015 Western Conference finals against Anaheim.
Kruger, who also won a silver medal with his native Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympics, signed a three-year, $9.25 million contract extension in March of 2016. He was paid a $2 million contract bonus by the Blackhawks on Saturday.
Chicago was $2.1 million over the cap prior to dealing Kruger, according to CapFriendly.com.
The trade for Kruger was McPhee’s second in as many days after he sent defenseman Alexei Emelin to Nashville on Saturday.
“We thank Marcus for his many contributions to our team — most notably, two Stanley Cup Championships,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “His work ethic, reliability and strength as a two-way player made him a valuable member of the organization. We wish him the best with Vegas.”
Kruger is expected to skate on the third or fourth line for the Knights and gives coach Gerard Gallant another option at the pivot along with Cody Eakin, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg and Jonathan Marchessault.
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