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Where Blackhawks’ defense goes after acquiring Olli Maatta

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How does the trade impact Chicago’s lineup?

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman acquired his fourth former first-round pick in the last seven months Saturday when he traded winger Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick to Pittsburgh for defenseman Olli Maatta.

Maatta, who turns 25 in August, is a left-handed shooting defenseman that missed 21 games last season due to a shoulder injury and carries a $4.083-million salary cap hit without a no-trade clause. The Blackhawks, as expected, decided not to honor his modified no-trade clause which they had the option to given he was traded to it going into effect.

Maatta is a defensive defenseman that ranked ninth 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) in 60 games, according to The Point. He had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) one season after recording a career-high 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) during a full season.

Defense was the Blackhawks’ biggest weakness during the 2018-19 season as they allowed the second-most goals per game (3.55). Adding Maatta should be viewed as a positive, but there are two big negatives for the Finnish blue liner: his injury history and he’s not a great skater.

The Blackhawks had nine defensemen see NHL playing time last season, including lefty Dennis Gilbert skating in one game. Lefty Gustav Forsling is the only one among the group that is not under contract for next season. He’s set to become a restricted free agent.

There are two likely lineups for Chicago’s defense after this trade.

Option 1

Duncan Keith ($5.538M) — Henri Jokiharju ($925K)

Olli Maatta ($4.083M) — Connor Murphy ($3.85M)

Erik Gustafsson ($1.2M) — Brent Seabrook ($6.875M)

Slater Koekkoek ($925K)

Carl Dahlstrom ($850K)

Gustav Forsling (RFA)

Dennis Gilbert ($925K)

Option 2

Duncan Keith ($5.538M) — Connor Murphy ($3.85M)

Olli Maatta ($4.083M) — Henri Jokiharju ($925K)

Erik Gustafsson ($1.2M) — Brent Seabrook ($6.875M)

Slater Koekkoek ($925K)

Carl Dahlstrom ($850K)

Gustav Forsling (RFA)

Dennis Gilbert ($925K)

Prospects breaking through?

Lucas Carlsson ($792.5K), who has played on both sides, is the only prospect with professional experience in North America that would likely push for a roster spot. He scored nine goals and 33 points in 69 games last season for the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL during in his first campaign in North America after leaving Brynas in Sweden.

Righty Adam Boqvist ($894,197) is expected to return to the London Knights in the OHL and take over the No. 1 defenseman role from fellow 2018 first-round pick Evan Bouchard (Oilers). Boqvist, who turns 19 in August, was drafted out of Brynas and not from London, so the Canadian Hockey League/NHL transfer rules of an under-20 player not be eligible to play in the AHL do not apply. He can play in the AHL next season.

Bowen Byram factor

The Blackhawks hold the No. 3 overall pick, and lefty Bowen Byram is a real candidate to be taken despite the team having used three first-round picks in the last two years on defensemen. The 18-year-old is the No. 2-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting and has been lauded as a future No. 1 blue liner. The 6-foot, 194-pounder played two seasons for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, and racked up 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in 67 regular-season games before leading all skaters with 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 22 playoff games.

If drafted by the Blackhawks, Byram would either play in the WHL again or make for some intriguing roster decisions for him to play in the NHL next season. Byram could sign with the Blackhawks then join the AHL after his season is over with the Giants.