RALEIGH — Not having a general manager hasn’t kept the Carolina Hurricanes from reshaping their front office — or making trades.
In a rare deal made during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Hurricanes traded center Marcus Kruger to Arizona in exchange for forward Jordan Martinook. The teams also swapped draft picks, with the Coyotes getting Carolina’s third-rounder in June’s draft and sending their fourth back to the Hurricanes. Carolina also retained 10 percent of the final year of Kruger’s salary for the 2018-19 season.
“Jordan is a physical player who kills penalties,” Don Waddell, the Hurricanes president and acting general manager, said in a press release. “This gives us some options with our forward group as we head toward the next season.”
Martinook, a native of Brandon, Manitoba, had six goals and nine assists in 81 games with the Coyotes last season, his third full NHL season. It marked a regression from his first two years with the Coyotes, when he registered 24 and 25 points.
Martinook, however, could bring an element to the lineup new Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said was lacking following end-of-season meetings with the team’s players — he ranked second on the Coyotes in hits (128) while also being the team’s most used penalty-killing forward (1:50 TOI/game).
“Either the players have to be tougher or you’ve got to bring in tougher players,” Dundon said. “I’m easy. I’ll take either one as long we get that same result.”
Martinook, 25, will be in the final year of a two-year contract and will earn $1.8 million. He will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2018-19 season. He was a second-round pick (58th overall) by the Coyotes in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Adding Martinook could mean Joakim Nordstrom will not be back next season. The restricted free agent played mostly on the left wing of Carolina’s fourth line this past season — where Martinook will likely slot in — but struggled to produce points, finishing with two goals and five assists this season after registering 12 points the year before.
Kruger, 27, was assigned to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers on Feb. 9 after clearing waivers. He had four goals and four assists in 19 games with the Checkers, but missed the team’s first-round three-game sweep of Wilkes-Barre Scranton with an injury. Kruger had one goal and five assists in 48 games with the Hurricanes.