Olli Maatta says he doesn’t look back on the 2014-15 campaign.
That’s probably a good thing.
After a year in which he had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck, got the mumps and had season-ending shoulder surgery, the young Finnish blueliner only wants to look forward to next season, and get healthy for training camp.
“We’re on the schedule,” Maatta said this week, per NHL.com. “Obviously the goal is to be ready for training camp. Everything is going as we planned, so that’s the goal.”
With Paul Martin now in San Jose and Christian Ehrhoff still entertaining free agent offers, the Pens will certainly need Maatta on the back end — and for him to stay injury-free. After scoring nine points in 20 games last year, the shoulder ailment sidelined him on Dec. 6 and the decision to have surgery was made in mid-January.
That essentially snuffed out what many thought would be an impressive campaign; as a rookie in ’13-14, Maatta showed great promise by scoring nine goals and 29 points in 78 games, finishing fifth in Calder voting.
The Blue Jackets were in on trade talks concerning Dougie Hamilton before Boston sent him to Calgary, and they’ve contacted the St. Louis Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk. The Jackets also made a contract offer to free agent Paul Martin before he signed with San Jose.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plans to keep looking, but it’s worth noting that Columbus is only about $4 million below the ceiling after signing Brandon Saad and Matt Calvert, per General Fanager. That’s not to say that Columbus can’t still acquire a top defenseman, but it’s more likely that it would have to involve the other team either retaining salary or taking a contract in order to make things work.
As things stand, the Blue Jackets have one of the cheapest defenses in the league as their money has instead flowed to their forwards and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s thanks in part to the fact that blueliners David Savard, Dalton Prout, Ryan Murray, and Kevin Connauton each come with a cap hit of $1.3 million or less, but all of them will be restricted free agents next summer and the raises they might demand has to also be a consideration.
So ultimately Columbus might stick with what it has and hope Murray can stay healthy as the 2012 second overall pick has run into serious injury problems early in his career.
“To me, getting him healthy would be the best addition any team has made this summer,” Kekalainen said. “It would make a huge difference for us.”
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times believes that the Kings should either trade Slava Voynov or terminate his contract, regardless of how everything ultimately shakes out with the league and law enforcement. (Los Angeles Times)
Speaking of departing Kings, The Royal Half bids Justin Williams a fond farewell. (The Royal Half)
Paul Martin’s heartfelt goodbye letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins (and fans) is a great read. It also might leave you yelling “Spumoni!” the next time you see Martin hemmed in his own zone. (Players’ Tribune)