Blackhawks get defensive help with Calvin de Haan trade, Hurricanes clear money for free agent splash
De Haan helps a Blackhawks team in desperate need of defense and penalty killing
Chicago landed de Haan in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday, sending goaltender Anton Forsberg and defenseman Gustav Forsling to Carolina in exchange for de Haan and forward Aleksi Saarela.
The main chip in the deal is de Haan, a 28-year-old left-shot defenseman who brings experience and penalty killing prowess to Chicago's back end. The Blackhawks are coming off a season in which they finished as the second-worst defensive team in the league and had the NHL's worst penalty kill (72.7 percent).
After spending six seasons with the Islanders, De Haan signed a four-year, $18.2 million deal ($4.55 million AAV) with Carolina last offseason. He put up 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) while averaging 18:31 TOI over 74 games in his lone season with the Hurricanes. Among Hurricanes defensemen, he was second in even-strength attempts share (55 percent).
Saarela is a 22-year-old Finnish forward who was a third-round pick in 2015. He played just one game for the Hurricanes last season, spending most of the year with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers as a key piece during their 2019 Calder Cup championship run. He scored 30 goals and had 54 points while playing 69 games for the Checkers. He could potentially make the Blackhawks' roster as a depth forward this season.
On Carolina's side of things, they acquire some goaltender insurance in the 26-year-old Forsberg, who played in 35 games for the Blackhawks last year, compiling a goals against average of 2.97 and a save percentage of .908. The Hurricanes currently have two goaltenders -- Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek -- who are pending free agents.
Forsling is a 23-year-old defenseman who recorded nine points (3-6-9) in 43 games with the Blackhawks last season. Both Forsberg and Forsling are pending restricted free agents in need of new contracts.
As of right now, it's a deal that falls pretty strongly in favor of the Blackhawks, as they're able to bolster an area of need without having to overpay in free agency or give up a whole lot from their roster or prospect pool. The addition of de Haan comes after the Blackhawks already acquired Olli Maatta in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this offseason.
But from the Hurricanes' point of view, this move is likely not much more than a glorified cap dump. It allows them to clear de Haan's salary off their books and free up $4.5 million in cap space that gives them more flexibility to add in free agency next week. Carolina's deep defensively and can afford to lose de Haan if it means they can add some scoring up front via the open market.
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