The Blackhawks acquired left-handed defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward prospect Aleksi Saarela from the Hurricanes in exchange for goaltender Anton Forsberg and left-handed defenseman Gustav Forsling on Monday night.
De Haan is more of a defensive first blue liner that the Blackhawks need after giving up the most goals in the NHL last season. After missing 49 games with a lower-body injury during the 2017-18 season, de Haan bounced back and put up 14 points (one goal, 13 assists), 55.64 Corsi percentage and averaged 18:01 of ice time in 74 regular-season games. The 28-year-old then added one goal in 12 playoff games to help Carolina reach the Eastern Conference Final.
He did, however, have offseason surgery on his right shoulder and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll be ready for training camp in the September.
Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton is already familiar with de Haan having been teammates with him during the 2011-12 season with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Colliton was the team captain for de Haan, who was playing his first professional season.
Saarela, 22, tallied 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists) in 69 AHL games then added 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 17 playoff games for the Charlotte Checkers, who won the Calder Cup. He’s the older brother of Blackhawks prospect Antti Saarela, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Blackhawks on Saturday.
De Haan is signed for three more years with a $4.55 million salary cap hit. Aleksi Saarela is signed for one more year at $753,333. The trade leaves the Blackhawks with about $11.93 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. Both Forsberg and Forsling are set to be restricted free agents. Tuesday is the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers.
Forsling (if they even sign him) is just a worse version of de Haan. He was injured at the start of the year but he didn't do anything to separate himself from the rest of CHI's mediocre defense. pic.twitter.com/2E9LK2SjD4— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) June 24, 2019
Forsberg was Chicago’s backup netminder during the 2017-18 season but didn’t play in the NHL this past season as veteran Cam Ward was brought in on a one-year deal for the role. The 26-year-old Forsberg was one of the top AHL goaltenders, recording a .919 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average.
Forsling, 23, is a left-handed defenseman who worked his way back from offseason wrist surgery this season and had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 43 NHL games.
De Haan and Maatta join Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman’s cupboard of former first-round picks acquired since last November, which includes defenseman Slater Koekkoek and forwards Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome.
The Blackhawks’ current NHL defensive group now reaches eight: Carl Dahlstrom, Erik Gustafsson, Duncan Keith, Connor Murphy, Brent Seabrook, de Haan, Koekkoek and Maatta. Chicago also has Henri Jokiharju, who played in 38 NHL games last season, and top defenseman prospect Adam Boqvist pushing for roster spots.
Another move is coming.