There is a rumour circulating that the Montréal Canadiens are interested in trading for Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta.
Two days ago, DansLeCoulisses.com, a francophone hockey blog site reported that the Montréal Canadiens were interested in possibly adding Maatta prior to the NHL Trade Deadline.
SOURCE : Le Canadien et les Penguins discuteraient très sérieusement d'Olli Maatta. Hâte de voir si les 2 parties en arriveront à quelque chose…
— DansLesCoulisses (@DLCoulisses) January 29, 2019
At the moment, the Canadiens have a noticeable gap on their first defensive pairing. They need a defenseman that can play on the left side alongside Shea Weber. Right now, Victor Mete is playing on Weber’s left side.
In 40 games played, Mete has totaled 0 goals, 6 assists, 50.3 corsi-for percentage (CF%), 16:45 average time on ice (ATOI), 56 blocks, 7 hits and 3 take-ways. All-in-all, Mete hasn’t been bad for the Canadiens, but they could definitely use an upgrade. If the Canadiens were able to add another defenseman to play on the left side, they’d have a great first pairing and Mete would be able to strengthen the Canadiens’ second or third pairing.
So, it makes a lot of sense that Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin would be reaching out to Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford about Maatta’s availability. But, I’m not sure that Maatta would be an upgrade.
In 48 games played, Maatta has totaled 1 goal, 11 assists, 45.3 CF%, 18:57 ATOI, 98 blocks, 80 hits, 14 take-aways. While Maatta is more physical than Mete, he’s not an upgrade. The one noticeable flaw in Maatta’s game is his possession numbers. If you are a defenseman who has an ATOI of 18:57 and you own a 45.3 CF%, that simply isn’t good. It’s pretty abysmal.
While Maatta is normally a solid defenseman, it’s not good to see his possession stats so far below 50%. If you look at his stats, his drop in CF% could be due to Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan using the Finnish defenseman more in defensive zone than in previous seasons. This season, Maatta’s owns a 58.4 defensive zone start percentage (dZS%). In seasons prior, the highest his dZS% has been was 49.9%. Just to note, his 49.9 dZS% was from his rookie season (2013-2014).
Additionally, Maatta will likely cost quite a bit. The Pittsburgh Penguins will be buyers at the deadline unless something drastic should happen. If the Canadiens truly want Maatta, they’d likely have to cough up an asset that the Penguins can use for their own playoff run. All-in-all, there are better options for the Canadiens.
Target de Haan Instead
If I were running the show in Montreal, my top target would be Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Calvin de Haan. In the off-season, de Haan signed a four year deal that carries a 4.55 mil USD cap hit.
After signing his contract, he has proven to the Hurricanes front office that they made the right choice. In 50 games played, de Haan has tallied 1 goal, 10 assists, 55.1 CF%, 19:13 ATOI, 80 blocks, 123 hits and 48 take-aways. If you compare his statistics to Maatta’s, you’ll see that de Haan has been the better defenseman in every category except for blocks.
In addition to looking at de Haan’s offensive, defensive and possession stats, I also wanted to compare de Haan’s shot contributions, entry possession, exit possession and entry defense to Maatta. In the diagram below (visual created by CJ Turtoro/stats from Corey Sznajder), you’ll see that de Haan is the more effective defenseman in every category except for PossEntry% (entry possession percentage).
With how well de Haan has been doing and that the Carolina Hurricanes might be a seller at the deadline, it makes more sense for Bergevin to trade for de Haan. Plus, de Haan would be under team control for the next three seasons.
stats from hockey-reference and NHL.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals