LA Kings: Here’s everything you need to know about the Olli Maatta trade

(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

Just ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft, the LA Kings may have found their desired left-handed defenseman in Olli Maatta.

The LA Kings made a roster upgrade on Sunday, finding their desired left-handed defenseman. The organization traded forward Brad Morrison in exchange for the services of now-former Chicago Blackhawks blueliner Olli Maatta.

Maatta was one of the first guys I pegged as a good choice for the Kings’ left-shot defenseman. The 26-year-old was traded from the Penguins to the Blackhawks the last offseason to shore up Chicago’s defensive end. And now he’ll hope to do the same in LA.

Maatta was drafted 22nd overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. Most recently, he scored 4 goals with 13 assists in 65 games while contributing 2 short-handed goals and averaging 18:25 on-ice time. The Finnish defenseman logged a 49.0 Corsi-for percentage and a 47.9 expected-goals-for percentage.

For reference, the Blackhawks were not a great puck possession team last year, finishing in the bottom half of the league with a 48.8 Corsi-for percentage.

He shined in the postseason, scoring 3 goals with 3 assists for 6 points in 9 games while primarily paired with Slater Koekkoek. During the regular season, he was slotted in at the second and third pairings, playing both at LD and RD, so his versatility cannot be ignored. That said, I am not sure if he’s first pairing material, which was something I was hoping the Kings would provide with Drew Doughty.

Maatta was set to have a $4.08M cap hit for the next two years, but the Blackhawks are retaining $750K of that.

Morrison is a center, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers, but he never signed with the team. Instead, the LA Kings signed him to a three-year entry-level contract in May 2018.

The 23-year-old stands at 6-foot-0, 170 pounds. He’s a left-handed shot and scored 6 goals with 13 assists in 17 games for the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL last year. With the Kings’ having so many centers in their prospect pool, Morrison was fairly easy to part with.

For Chicago, this looks like a pure salary dump, as they were going to struggle to retain goalie Corey Crawford for another year or two. They also have to eventually sign both Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik to long-term extensions, even though both are restricted free agents this offseason.

The move now leaves LA with approximately $13.6M in cap space.

Here’s the official statement from the team:

"The LA Kings have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Brad Morrison. “Olli is a well-rounded player who will fit well with our group of defensemen,” said Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake. “He is a young player that already has a lot of valuable NHL experience, including a pair of Stanley Cups, and we look forward to having him join our organization.”"

We can finally stop speculating about who they might acquire and focus full-steam ahead on improving the roster via the draft, with Day 1 beginning on Tuesday at 7:00 PM ET.