The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Calvin de Haan and forward prospect Aleksi Saarela for goaltender Anton Forsberg and defenseman Gustav Forsling in an unexpected Monday night trade.
The move continues an ongoing remodeling of the Hawks’ defensive corps following a rough showing on that front last season. The team also recently traded for the Penguins’ Olli Maatta, sending Dominik Kahun and a fifth-round pick to Pittsburgh.
De Haan, like Maatta, is a defensive-minded blue liner who’s signed relatively affordably ($4.55 million cap hit) for the next three seasons. He joined the Hurricanes last year in free agency after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Islanders.
In his lone season in Carolina, De Haan recorded one goal and 13 assists in 74 games. The 28-year-old posted strong possession metrics, including a 55.5 percent even strength Corsi, for a team that dominated in that area.
He’s exactly the kind of player the Hawks needed: a conservative, reliable rearguard who can provide stability to a unit that previously lacked anyone in that role.
Whether he’s paired with Connor Murphy to form a true shutdown duo, slotted alongside Erik Gustafsson to counterbalance the Swede’s sometimes over-aggressive offensive tendencies, or designated as the responsible mentor for a prospect like Henri Jokiharju or Adam Boqvist, de Haan could be a useful addition in any number of ways.
Saarela, 22, will further boost the Hawks’ forward prospect pipeline, which has gotten a lot wetter in a matter of days. Saarela played most of the past two seasons for the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, recording 30 goals and 24 assists in 69 games last season with the Calder Cup-winning Carolina Checkers. His 18-year-old brother, Antti, was drafted by the Hawks just this Saturday.