There was a big blow to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday when the team announced that that defenseman Olli Maatta is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. The veteran blue liner sustained an upper-body injury after he absorbed a check during the team’s 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
While the news is unfortunate, it is also puzzling as many fans wonder if the Penguins will trade for top-four defenseman to replace Maatta.
The good news in Pittsburgh is that Justin Schultz is set to return shortly. The blue liner has missed most of the season with a pretty freakish injury, having not played since Oct. 13, however, it seems almost impossible for him to get back and play heavy minutes all the way to the postseason.
The market for a top-four defenseman is quite scarce… And let’s say the Penguins are willing to go after Dougie Hamilton of the Carolina Hurricanes, the price will be steep. His $5.75 million cap hit runs through 2020-21 and might be too much for the Pens’ cap and the Canes might refuse to do business with an Eastern rival.
The Pens were quite active on the trade market earlier this month, and with very little assets left in the bank, it seems unlikely to see them take a run at replacing Maatta. Team insider Jason MacKay of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette doesn’t see the Pens making a major move despite the injury.
Maatta struggled all season it seems, so this could give the Penguins the chance to use a young comer who will be thrilled by the opportunity to play for the big club.
If not, they better be ready to pay up if ever they choose to seek help on the trade market.