The Blackhawks announced on Sunday afternoon they traded defenseman Olli Maatta to the Los Angeles Kings, also retaining $750,108 of Maatta’s 2020–21 and 2021–22 salary. In return, the Blackhawks acquired 23-year-old ECHL center Brad Morrison.
Maatta, 26, was acquired last summer from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Dominik Kahun. Maatta had 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 65 games last season with the Blackhawks. In nine postseason games, he had six points (three goals, three assists). It was widely speculated that Maatta would be bought out by the Blackhawks to free up the significant salary cap room needed to re-sign unrestricted free agent Corey Crawford and restricted free agents Drake Caggiula, Slater Koekkoek, Dominik Kubalik and Malcolm Subban.
In return for Maatta, Hawks General Manager Stan Bowman acquired a name that might be familiar to Indy Fuel fans. The 6-foot, 170-pound Morrison is a former New York Rangers 2015 fourth round draft pick. He played 17 games with the Ft. Wayne Komets of the ECHL in 2019–20, scoring 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 17 games. Prior to that, he played 50 games with the AHL Ontario Reign during the 2018–19 season, where he had 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists).
Make no mistake, this is purely a salary dump for Bowman and the Blackhawks. Rather than suffering the cap repercussions of a buyout for the next four years, the team will only have to eat $750,108 in this deal each of the next two seasons. That said, Maatta’s value is much higher than that of Morrison, who will likely never see time with the Blackhawks, but Bowman was backed into a corner with no room to maneuver.
So, if the #Blackhawks would have simply bought out Maatta, they would have been on the hook for roughly $680K per year over 4 season.
With this trade they are on the hook for just over $750K for 2 seasons. The actual relief and benefit doesn’t really come for two full seasons
— Puckin Hostile (@PuckinHostile) October 4, 2020