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Olli Maatta, Connor Murphy ruled ‘unfit to participate’ for Blackhawks

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The defensemen join starting goaltender Corey Crawford as Chicago players who are “unfit to participate.”

NHL: FEB 15 Blackhawks at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy were ruled “unfit to participate” and did not practice with the Blackhawks’ main group Friday at training camp.

Both defensemen participated in Phase 2 voluntary workouts and the first three days of training camp at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago. Maatta, however, did join the second group’s practice according to The Athletic. The NHL is prohibiting teams from releasing medical information in Phases 3 (training camps) and 4 (resumption of play).

Maatta, who turns 26 in August, had 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 65 games in his first season with the Blackhawks before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Chicago acquired him June 15, 2019, in exchange for Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.

The 27-year-old Murphy had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in 58 games. He missed 11 games with a groin injury. Both defensemen play primarily defensive roles on the blue line, with Maatta also being a key factor to the Blackhawks’ improved penalty kill this season.

Calvin de Haan missed his third practice since leaving the team Tuesday due to a family emergency. Coach Jeremy Colliton did not have an update Friday on when de Haan could return.

With Maatta and Murphy absent Friday, Nick Seeler and prospect Chad Krys joined the main group. Seeler was paired with Slater Koekkoek on the second pairing, and Krys was paired with his AHL teammate Nicolas Beaudin to form the fourth unit. Beaudin, Krys and Seeler are all lefties.

Seeler had one assist in six games with Chicago after he was claimed off waivers Feb. 3 from the Wild. He had 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 99 games for Minnesota as a defensive-minded defensemen.

Krys, a second-round pick (No. 45 overall) in the 2016 NHL draft, had eight points (two goals, six assists) in 41 AHL games this season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Blackhawks’ defensive pairings

Duncan KeithAdam Boqvist

Nick SeelerSlater Koekkoek

Lucas CarlssonBrent Seabrook

Chad Krys — Nicolas Beaudin

Maatta and Murphy join starting goaltender Corey Crawford as players “unfit to participate.” Crawford hasn’t participated in training camp, which started Monday, and did not take part in Phase 2.

The Blackhawks’ forward lines remained the same as they have throughout camp. Dylan Sikura, who scored three points (one goal, two assists) in nine NHL games and 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 45 AHL games this past season, rotated in on the fourth line. He spent the previous three practices with taxi squad players.

The Blackhawks, who were 32-30-8 (.514 points percentage), enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 5 seed, the Oilers (37-25-9, .585), in one of eight best-of-five series that will begin Aug. 1 at Rogers Place in Edmonton. Edmonton is the hub city for the 12 Western teams.

The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the loser and the other seven teams eliminated from the qualifiers will have an equal chance (12.5 percent) at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Aug. 10. The 2020 NHL Draft is set for Oct. 9-10.