Marcus Kruger was traded to the Arizona Coyotes by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, along with a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, for Jordan Martinook and a fourth-round pick in 2018.
[RELATED: 2017-18 NHL Trade Tracker]
"It's nothing I really expected, but ... I was really excited when I found out I was going to Arizona," Kruger said. "I started to think about guys I had played with in the past and a team with a really bright future."
Kruger, a 27-year-old forward, had six points (one goal, five assists) in 48 games for the Hurricanes this season. Carolina acquired him in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights on July 4, two days after he was traded to Vegas by the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I tried to go in there with a good mindset and tried to earn the respect and a role there," Kruger said. "It just wasn't a good fit. I could have done a lot of stuff different, playing a lot better, but that's how it is, and I'm going to work hard this offseason and I'm really excited to get a chance here to play. I think this is a really good situation."
Kruger played seven seasons with the Blackhawks, who selected him in the fifth round (No. 149) of the 2009 NHL Draft, and was a member of Chicago's Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2013 and 2015. He has 111 points (34 goals, 77 assists) in 446 NHL games.
"Marcus is a player that we've looked at in the past," Arizona general manager John Chayka said. "We've got some young wingers. We think that having stability up the middle is going to be very important for our group. He's a guy that does provide stability. He's known as a high-character guy, both hard-working on the ice but also hard-working off the ice and very detailed with his regimen. He does a lot of things that we want to bring to our locker room for our young players to learn from. He's a guy that has made a living and won Cups being that stabilizer up the middle, being able to play up against some tough competition."
Video: Discussing the trade between Hurricanes and Coyotes
Kruger had abdominal surgery two weeks ago with a recovery time of six weeks, Chayka said.
"We feel that impacted his play," Chayka said. "We're not making this trade believing that we're acquiring the Marcus Kruger of the Carolina Hurricanes. For whatever reason, it wasn't a fit; it didn't work out for him there. He never got the traction in his role that allowed him to have success. … We think [the surgery] will get the jump back in his game that makes him an effective player."
Kruger said, "I'm still pretty fresh out of surgery but I feel good. We've got a long way to go until training camp, so that shouldn't be bugging me more."
Martinook, a 25-year-old forward, had 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 81 games with the Coyotes this season. He has 65 points (26 goals, 39 assists) in 247 NHL games during four seasons with Arizona, which selected him in the second round (No. 58) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
"I didn't even know a trade could happen this time of year," Martinook said. "When I got that call, it was very shocking, but I've had an hour or two hours to let it sink in. Carolina is kind of a similar situation to Arizona with a lot of young talent up and coming, so I'm excited to join that and put my stamp on it."
Martinook, who was second to Brad Richardson in shorthanded ice time per game among Coyotes forwards (2:05-1:50), played wearing a cast for a torn ligament in his left thumb.
"I didn't have as good an offensive year as I would have wanted," he said. "I was dealing with a pretty significant injury the second half of the season and that hampered my game a little. ... It was definitely harder to create some offense. I could have got surgery but I chose to play and that was my decision. They said it's healed enough that they're confident it should be good for training camp. Coming in healthy, hopefully I'll have a good start."
NHL.com correspondent Craig Morgan contributed to this report.