Below is an excerpt from Assistant General Manager Norm Maciver's interview on the Blackhawks Insider podcast. To listen to the full interview, click here, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Insider: Do you see any future for Marcus Kruger to be a second-line center? He had an offensive role in Sweden and now it seems like he’s only getting time on the PK. What is Kruger’s ceiling? --Fredrik Sundin, Stockholm
Maciver: His role could be a second-line center down the line, but right now he’s found a role on that fourth line. He and Michael Frolik have done a tremendous job both five on five and also on the penalty kill. He seems to relish that role. In Rockford, Marcus was playing on the power play. He was given more of an offensive role, and he was doing very well in it. The ceiling is very high for Marcus. It’s just his second year over here in North America, his second year as a pro. He’s still learning, he’s still getting better, he’s still growing as a hockey player. We feel he has a bright future here with us.
...Kruger is one of those guys who isn't very flashy, isn't putting up a bunch of points, so his contributions can be overlooked. What does he bring that the coaching staff and hockey ops group appreciates?
When you’re coaching in the NHL, the thing that you’re looking for from players is consistency and trust. Coaches have to trust players when they send them over the boards. Joel [Quenneville] really trusts Marcus. He knows what he’s going to get with Marcus on every shift. It’s a comforting feeling for a coach. The one thing that [management] sees is that he makes a lot of subtle plays that the casual hockey fan who looks at statistics might not pick up on. But coaches and people in management, we see that he’s a very valuable piece of our puzzle.
How is Jimmy Hayes progressing, in your opinion? What does he need to work on? --John Wagnerm Willowbrook, Ill.
About 15 or 20 games into the season, we switched him from the wing to center. We did it for a few reasons, and in the last 10 or 15 games Jimmy’s game has really taken off. He’s got about 10 goals in his last 13 games. He’s playing on the penalty kill, he’s getting in front of the net on the power play, he’s learning the position. Improving on faceoffs, improving defensive zone awareness as a center—it gives him more utility to his game. When he does get to Chicago, it’ll give Joel options, making him a valuable player for us.