Well the Blackhawks NEEDED help on the blue and they went out and got…Olli Maata?
First things first…I will miss Kahun zero percent. With Sikura ascending, Kubalik joining the roster, and hopefully some free agent help coming on the wings the Blackhawks have some flexibility to dump Kahun. He’s a fine player. Some spark. Some offense. He really hit the wall down the stretch and found himself on the 4th line under Colliton. If you want to cry over a bottom 6 offensive winger, don’t come to me.
As for Maatta…I am not a big fan. He’s got good size, he has a good head on his shoulders, and he can help you make clean exits. He’s just not a great skater and he provides almost nothing offensively. He’s a left-shot dman who the Blackhawks will likely pair with Connor Murphy, on paper, but I am not sure that is such a good pair. Maatta would probably be better suited to play with someone who can skate the puck out of trouble sometimes or be an outlet for Maatta. Murphy isn’t really that guy. It’s probably not smart to project where and with who Maatta slots with, but my best guess for next season
I am just not sure that is a big enough improvement to take the Blackhawks back to the playoffs. It’s one of the weaker looking groups and paying Maatta over $4M for the next 3 years seems like trouble because you just don’t know what you’re going to get from him because…he’s always hurt. Since turning pro he’s had one game where he played a full 82.
Beyond that, in a division where speed and forechecking is as tough as it is anywhere, I have a hard time envisioning Maatta winning races and battles against the Blues, Preds, Jets, and Avs. Watching that Islanders series…woof. The fourth line punished Maatta and he had a really hard time maintaining a good gap against the Isles’ top lines. He was consistently overmatched and in more than one way. When the Penguins said that they needed to improve their speed and defense they were basically talking about Maatta. Maatta was a scratch for all but one of the playoff games this year.
He does have 2 rings with the Penguins, so he has big game experience. Maybe he needed a change of scenery. $4M on a guy who has been trending in the wrong direction for a long time feels like a big gamble. I am really trying hard not to be overly negative, but it’s hard for me to get excited about this one. Can’t imagine a situation where in 6 months we are looking at the standings and saying “whoa, thank god Stan traded for Olli fucking Maatta”.
I wanted Murray from CBJ. That clearly isn’t happening now. I also talked myself(with the help of Craig Button) into the Hawks drafting Bowen Byram and just having a left side of Keith/Gustafsson/Byram. To me that’d be a better allocation of this valuable cap space Stan has been accumulating for years. In short…woof.