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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Penguins get better end of Olli Maatta trade

Olli Maatta

The Pittsburgh Penguins are shaking things up after a disappointing end to the 2019 season. The team from the Steel City traded defenseman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday for right wing Dominik Kahun and a fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft. While some Pittsburgh fans may be upset with the team for trading the talented defenseman, who contributed to the Penguins’ championship runs in 2016 and 2017, they won’t hold on to their disappointment long. The Penguins improved tremendously and won this trade.

First off, there was no room for Maatta in Pittsburgh. He was one of eight defenseman on the team under contract for next year, so his playing time would have been limited. The 24-year-old was also a healthy scratch in the last three games of the season for the Penguins, which ended in a first-round playoff sweep.

The scratches were deserved as Maatta suffered through a poor 2018-2019 campaign. He scored just 14 points all year and missed two months due to injury. Not exactly the strong seasonal performance that inspires faith in a coach.

In exchange for the underperforming defenseman, the Penguins received 23-year-old Dominik Kahun, who scored 37 points during the season, his first year in the NHL. Combined with the talents of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Kahun is poised for another big year in his sophomore season.

Besides the on-ice positives, the deal benefits the Penguins financially as well. Maatta is owed just over $4 million next year while Kahun’s salary sits at a slim $925,000. The Penguins opened up some salary cap room, which may come in handy during free agency.

The Penguins traded up in every way. They received a younger, more consistent player at a position that is not already overcrowded while also somehow shedding salary cap. Matta may have been an important part of two championships, but the past is the past, and the Penguins are ready to get back to their winning ways.

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