A day after Charlotte Checkers’ defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani signed with a KHL team, the team found out they would lose another defenseman in Justin Krueger.
Krueger signed a two-year deal with Bern of the Swiss League on Thursday. The German defenseman played for Bern before he signed a deal with the Hurricanes, who drafted Krueger in the seventh round of the 2006 draft. Krueger is an RFA, like Gragnani, and the Canes can hold on to his negotiation rights by qualifying him this summer.
Krueger played two seasons with the Checkers, scoring 28 points in 127 games. However, Krueger played more of a stay-at-home defensive role and was one of the more experienced defensemen on the Checkers’ blue line.
The 26-year-old also played for Germany at this year’s World Championships. Krueger told Paul Branecky of gocheckers.com, that his goal was to make the NHL, but was not able to after two years and felt he wanted to try something different. Krueger also had offers from teams in Germany, Sweden and other Swiss clubs.
It is unlikely that Krueger would have had a chance with the Hurricanes, but after losing Gragnani and Krueger, the Checkers’ defense will be less experienced coming into next season, which is something GM Jim Rutherford may address in free agency.