Olli Maatta traded to Chicago + More Rumors
We all know the trade by now; Olli Maatta is a Blackhawk and Dominik Kahun and a 5th Rounder now belong to Pittsburgh Penguins.
For the record, my "FAKE TRADE" post the other day include Olli Maatta in it. The trade was Carl Dahlstrom and a 4th rounder for Olli Maatta. Would I have preferred this trade? Yes. However, Kahun and a 5th is not terrible to give up for a guy like Maatta.
I am surprisingly in the minority. The initial reaction is that Maatta is terrible and Kahun is irreplaceable. Not really, but it's really not a trade to get overly worked up about in my opinion.
What the Hawks did was went out and grabbed a guy that has played top 4 minutes for the majority of his career, won a couple of Stanley Cups and has played 300+ games at 24-years old.
Most importantly, it shows that the Hawks were aggressive in finding a player that offers them something that – this current Blackhawks team as constructed – is seriously lacking… a defensive specialist.
Jeremy Colliton, Stan Bowman and even the players have acknowledged the terribly penalty kill and mediocre (at best) defence. Olli Maatta is coming in to attempt to help in that area:
However, he's been real inconsistent:
So, which Maatta will the Hawks get?
If anything, the Hawks need Maatta to be healthy. He is in Finland right now training and will be there until he's Chicago-bound for training camp. I suspect he and Jokiharju will talk - and possibly meet up – during the offseason.
Speaking of the Maatta and Jokiharju Finnish connection, they could very well be a pairing this season.
Here's a breakdown of Maatta from fellow Hockeybuzzer and Penguins
"Olli Maatta is incredibly dependent on his quality of teammate. He is a chameleon. When he played with Letang he did fine. When he played with lesser partners like Trevor Daley he was terrible.
He's a below average skater but can think the game at an acceptable level. He can make good passes and his shot is fine.
If you deploy him with a good partner he will blend in and his underlying numbers should be fine. If you try to have him carry a pairing or elevate him you're going to have a bad time"
Ryan speaks a lot to Maatta's partner being instrumental in his success in Chicago.
If Maatta is "deployed with a good partner" is a key phrase. Who is the most reliable partner on the right-side? That would be either Connor Murphy or Henri Jokiharju.
I have heard that the Hawks might not be done tweaking their defence and Bowman alluded to that in his press conference Sunday morning. However, if the season started today I would go with the following if I were Colliton:
Keith – Gustafsson
Maatta – Jokiharju
Murphy – Seabrook
What is glaring to me is that Maatta is a left-handed "slower" dman and we know that the righty Brent Seabrook is slow as well. Therefore, these two should never be paired together which really hinders Colliton in his flexibility. Maybe Seabrook is destined for more press box time this year anyway and Murphy can slide over to the right… if he's still here. Read below for more D rumors.
My final thoughts on the Maatta for Kahun and a 2019 5th rounder trade is this – Kahun is a nice player but the Hawks dealt from an area of strength.
I see Dylan Sikura as the closest to Kahun's style and he, along with Kubalik and Wedin were mentioned by Stan Bowman to replace Kahun's production.
In Maatta, the Hawks traded for a guy who is hard working on and off the ice, a great teammate, dedicated to shot blocking and someone who can play in the top 4 in Chicago, filling a skill set that they are lacking.
Will he be healthy all year? Who knows? Who knows if anyone will be healthy. All I know if that I am not going to get too high or low on this move until I see the full picture.
Trades over Free Agents?
This isn't just a Chicago trend, but my contact told me that more teams are looking at trades vs. relying on free agency. Obviously, UFAs will be signed but this is expected to be a "crazier than normal" offseason in terms of trades.
Stan Bowman agrees:
Along with this tidbit, I was told the reason Bowman was so aggressive on finding a dman is that he was looking for not one, but two of them.
This might make more sense that he was looking at oft-injured and "buy low" candidates in Ryan Murray and Olli Maatta.
Maybe he acquires Murray as well? Maybe there's a free agent he signs on the backend?
All I know is that he's working closely with his pro scouting team and Jeremy Colliton on finding the right type of players to fit into the mix in Chicago.
If more defenders are acquired that means someone has to go. The Hawks currently have:
LD: Keith, Maatta Gustafsson, Koekkoek, Dahlstrom, Forsling (RFA)
RD: Seabrook, Murphy, Jokiharju
That's 9 defencemen by my count. Let's segue into the next rumor.
Connor Murphy, Gustav Forsling and/or Erik Gustafsson on the move?
I've heard that this might be the case after acquiring Maatta. As mentioned, I was told the Hawks talked to a lot of teams about defencemen because they were looking for a couple of potential options, as well as putting out feelers on Murphy, Forsling and Gustafsson.
The vibe is that Forsling and his agent are not thrilled about the Maatta acquisition and they've actually considered heading overseas for a season to build up Forsling's stock. Keep an eye out for that.
If Gustafsson was to be moved, the Hawks would be selling high on him. Would it be smart though?
I've gone back and forth on Gustafsson and my thinking is this – if he is moved, the Hawks need to replace his mobility and offensive ability as there isn't anyone on the Hawks that possess his skill set. If he is moved and someone of his level isn't coming back in a move, then I was told the Hawks believe that Boqvist is expected to make the team next year as they think he's ready.
Connor Murphy is an interesting one. He's similar to a Maatta in his skills. However, while Murphy was solid last year, he hasn't excelled as a pure shutdown guy or PK specialist. It's for these reasons I've heard he's on the block.
There is more talk out there than normal. I'll be honest, I don't have constant information that my contacts offer up, however, after working in sports media in Toronto for 15 years, I have made some amazing connections. These connections I bug once in and while for Blackhawks rumors. These connections have all said that it's crazy out there right now and have fed me some of the information above.
I'm really looking forward to the upcoming week. I still owe you guys and gals a Dylan Cozens preview, my draft selection for the Hawks and Re-Draft Friday final rankings.
I will also be popping in and out with quick hitter blogs if I hear more rumors. I haven't been seen this much trade chatter around the Hawks in a long time.
More as I have it.