Restricted free agent forward Marcus Kruger said he expects to return to the Chicago Blackhawks this season and is waiting for them to clear salary-cap space before signing a contract, ESPN Chicago reported.
Kruger was given a qualifying offer but has been negotiating with the Blackhawks for a few weeks. Chicago would like to free up cap space to sign Kruger to a long-term contract, it was reported Friday.
The 25-year old was selected in the fifth round (No. 149) of the 2009 NHL Draft and had seven goals and 17 points in 81 games last season. He had four points in 23 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Kruger's two-year contract, which had an average annual value of $1.325 million according to war-on-ice.com, expired after last season.
Chicago has not ruled out re-signing defenseman Johnny Oduya, an unrestricted free agent, who signed a three-year, $10.125 million contract with the Blackhawks in 2012-13.
General manger Stan Bowman said at the 2015 NHL Draft he would like to re-sign Oduya if the Blackhawks had cap space.