The Chicago Blackhawks helped break the ice on the commerce market this summer time, buying defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins. The hope is he’ll in flip break the development of two straight non-playoff seasons that has taken kind within the Windy Metropolis. He’s a begin not less than, simply not a starter in all probability.
Maatta Blocks Pictures Aplenty
are clearly no ensures on that entrance, however by all appearances Maatta will
not less than assist do the trick. He ranked
third on the Penguins final yr with 116 blocked pictures, having performed in simply
60 video games (first in blocks per recreation, with 1.9) due primarily to a shoulder
Olli Maatta – (AP Picture/Invoice Boyce)
Whereas that’s a formidable statistic, there are two caveats: Jack Johnson ranked first in whole blocked pictures and the Penguins are reportedly making an attempt to dump his contract one season after signing him. Secondly, Maatta’s 60 video games performed had been hardly an outlier in his profession. During the last 5 seasons, the 25-year-old Finn performed greater than 67 video games a single time. Maatta’s shoulders particularly have been a recurring challenge.
If Maatta is ready to get previous the shortage of sturdiness, he’s on the very least a younger defenseman who has proven a capability to get the puck out of his personal zone and drive offense previously. By all accounts, this previous season, throughout which he was about as ineffective at so doing as Johnson (with only one extra level and one rating increased with regard to Shot-Makes an attempt Proportion), was an anomaly. That needs to be the hope for this commerce to work out.
Maatta for Kahun
In any other case, the Blackhawks may have simply traded away a promising rookie in Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round decide for a defenseman who’s typically considered slow-footed. On the plus facet, offense wasn’t the problem for the Blackhawks final season. They ranked eighth within the league in objectives and sure gained’t miss Kahun’s 13 (37 factors) all that a lot.
Ex-Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Dominik Kahun – (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)
All in all, Kahun was an reasonably priced worth to pay to enhance their protection. Identical to the Penguins confirmed religion in Maatta with a six-year, $24.5 million extension (which now has three seasons left), the Blackhawks are doing the identical now, fortunately with seemingly cheap expectations.
It’s important to mood them amongst followers, as Maatta will seemingly by no means be the top-pairing defender many first envisioned following his rookie 29-point season in 2013-14. It appears to be one thing normal supervisor Stan Bowman acknowledges contemplating the comparatively modest worth he paid to get him and the way each Maatta and Erik Gustafsson, the Blackhawks’ defensive chief in factors with 60, are each left-handed pictures. It’s not an ideal match, in different phrases.
The place Will Maatta Play?
Whereas Gustafsson did play with the left-handed Duncan Keith, the distinction there’s Keith has gained the Norris Memorial Trophy twice. It’s unlikely head coach Jeremy Colliton would play each Gustafsson and Maatta collectively as the highest pairing, not less than commonly. In spite of everything, neither one has ever been “the” man on their respective squads. Nobody ought to realistically hope both one can emerge as such for the Blackhawks in the event that they had been to play collectively.
Because of this, it stands to cause the Blackhawks see Maatta as extra of a second or third-pairing defenseman, which might be an correct evaluation of his expertise degree: an honest top-four or an above-average bottom-pairing participant. So, the search should sustain, as a result of Gustafsson will nonetheless need assistance as Keith continues to say no as a 36-year-old. There is no such thing as a escaping it.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson – (Picture by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Photos)
Maatta isn’t the answer, however he will be a part of it because the Blackhawks start to repair their protection. Proper-handed
pictures like Henri Jokiharju and top-prospect Adam Boqvist are most likely in a greater
place to make extra of an influence, however that simply goes to indicate the Blackhawks
are not less than on their method. Maatta helps get them there faster, albeit
(hopefully) in little greater than depth function.
such an occasion, the Blackhawks simply gave up a bit of depth to get some in
return. If that’s all of the Blackhawks anticipate out of Maatta, and it’s a
cheap assumption they do, they gained’t be disenchanted. That appears to be the
most real looking state of affairs right here, with there being an outdoor probability that Maatta
turns again the clock a bit and overperforms like he’s confirmed able to in
So, the most effective case? The Blackhawks dedicated freeway theft right here. The likeliest case? They simply obtained an above-average depth defenseman to spice up their blue line and deal with their defensive points, which is what they wanted. So long as Maatta isn’t Bowman’s sole acquisition on the back-end, it’s a win both method, one that’s prone to translate into extra on the ice. Hopefully a return to the playoffs in addition.