Blackhawks

Trevor van Riemsdyk on the move hours after being selected by Vegas in expansion draft

Trevor van Riemsdyk on the move hours after being selected by Vegas in expansion draft

Less than 14 hours after being taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, Trevor van Riemsdyk is already on the move.

The Golden Knights have traded the 25-year-old defenseman to the Carolina Hurricanes, where he will reunite with former Blackhawks teammates Scott Darling, Joakim Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen. Carolina also receives a 2018 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2017 second-rounder.

“I think that’ll be making the transition easier," van Riemsdyk said during a conference call on Thursday. "I know Scotty, Teuvo and Nordy. I know Brett [Pesce] very well and Noah [Hanifin] I met in Germany. It’ll make the transition a little easier. I’m sure the rest of the guys are great guys. So I’m excited to come and experience it.”

Vegas general manager George McPhee made it known that he was going to draft "a lot" of defensemen Wednesday night, and he did just that with van Riemsdyk being one of 13 blue liners selected. Because of that, it makes players like van Riemsdyk expendable, giving McPhee the opportunity to collect assets by trading some of them and using the returns on other parts of the roster.

Van Riemsdyk joins an up-and-coming Hurricanes team that has a young, promising defensive corps featuring 25-year-old future All-Star Justin Faulk, the 20-year-old Hanifin, who was the No. 5 overall pick in 2015, and 23-year-old Jaccob Slavin, who has emerged into of their best defensemen.

“Being in Chicago I was lucky enough to play with guys like [Duncan Keith], [Brent] Seabrook and [Niklas] Hjalmarsson, to learn from them and practice with them," van Riemsdyk said. "Carolina’s a younger group but really talented, a group of guys that’s played really well. They’re definitely guys you can learn a lot from, too. I know guys a little bit, so it’ll be exciting to get on the ice with them a little more and learn from them. It’s definitely a change, but it’ll be a fun group to be a part of.”

Van Riemsdyk has one year left on a deal that carries a $825,000 cap hit, and is set to become a restricted free agent next summer.

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

Blackhawks acquire Olli Maatta, send Dominik Kahun to Penguins

One of the Blackhawks’ priorities this summer is to add pieces that will help shore up the defensive part of their game after they gave up the second-most goals in the NHL last season. And they didn’t waste much time doing it.

Less than a week before the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

Maatta is 24 years old, carries a left-handed shot and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. But he battled injuries last season and fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, where he was a healthy scratch for three games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are hoping a fresh start could help Maatta find his game again, and do it in a place that may better utilize his skill-set. Where he could help is in the defensive part. 

According to The Point, Maatta ranked 9th among defensemen in blocked shots per game (2.05), 26th in defensive zone puck battles won (2.45), 40th in blocked defense zone passes (3.77) and 47th in outlet passes (8.95). 

Maatta, who was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2012, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games last season. His best year came in 2017-18 when he tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 82 games. He has three years remaining on his deal that carries a $4.083 million cap hit.

It’s worth noting that when Maatta signing his extension with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2016, the contract included a modified no-trade clause in his final two years, according to Cap Friendly. The Blackhawks will have the option to either honor that clause or nullify it.

The Blackhawks are expected to have some heavy competition among the forwards at training camp with the signings of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin. That likely made Kahun expendable despite a rookie season in which he compiled 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

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