The Chicago Blackhawks have several defensemen who will want to take a step up next season, so someone has to be moved. However, moving Olli Maatta might not be what is best for the team.
Olli Maatta might not be the best defensemen to ever lace up the skates for the Blackhawks, but when you look at the type of player he is, he is worth more than a buyout. Maatta is under contract with the Blackhawks till the end of the 2022-22 season, and at 4 million a year, the 26-year-old is relatively reasonably priced.
Two-time Stanley Cup champion defensemen do not grow on trees in the NHL. Maatta is one of those guys thanks to his early years in Pittsburgh. While the deal that brought him to Chicago might not have made sense long term, he is here and can make a difference.
Maatta is one of a handful of players rumored to not return next season due to the salary cap. A lot of people would like to see him bought out to clear up a few million in salary cap space to keep a player like Dominik Kubalik around for a few more seasons.
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I understand the trade-off of wanting to keep Kubalik or Strome over Maatta, but I do not think buying Maatta out would be the best move. Maatta was fourth on the team in points these playoffs with six points in nine games, and he is only 26 years old with a lot of time to progress.
While he might not have the best speed or defensive abilities at times, I see no reason why Chicago can not find some team willing to add Maatta to their lineup, even if that means we keep a little of his salary for the next two seasons.
Maatta’s play this year does not warrant a buyout by any means. Chicago is going to have to consider getting out of a contract like Zack Smiths, but Maatta, on the other hand, should be able to be used in different capacities either though trade or on the ice.
The problem the Blackhawks have on their blue line is honestly an excellent issue to have. They have so many defensemen that can fit into their lineup that they are going to have to move some. Even if some of the Blackhawks blueliners are bottom pairing guys, with time, we are going to see a rise in Boqvist, Mitchell, and hopefully Beaudin.
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We are going to see some Blackhawks not return next season because of cap space issues. I understand why the Blackhawks would buy out Maatta but is that the best move for the team to let go of a player with value for nothing?