Wings Announce Signing of Olli Maatta

The Detroit Red Wings formally announced the signing of defenseman Olli Maatta on Thursday, a day after news of the deal broke.

The one-year deal reportedly carries a $2.25 million salary cap hit.

I have to say, I was shocked to learn that Maatta is only 27.  It feels like he’s been in the league forever.

Given the one-year term, and the fact that the Wings have a ton of cap space this year, this is a great deal.

2022 Free Agency: Day One Thoughts

The Red Wings were busy on the opening day of free agency, signing six NHLers, one draft pick, and agreeing to terms with one more player.

Eighth-overall pick Marco Kasper kicked things off, agreeing to his entry-level deal.  The contract was announced just after free agency opened, which wasn’t necessary, and feels like a bit of a troll by the Red Wings’ PR team.

Just after that, Andrew Copp joined Detroit.  He immediately slots in as the team’s second-line center.  As I said earlier, I wish his five-year deal was four years, but I don’t think that’s the end of the world.  If he’s playing out the end of his deal on the third line, having made way for Kasper on the second line, that’s not a bad place to be in.

Detroit was then linked to Olli Maatta, and by all accounts a deal is in place there but not finalized.  I like that move to shore up the left side of the defense with the departures of Marc Staal and Danny DeKeyser.  I just wish they’d get it done.

Insiders linked the Red Wings to both Ben Chiarot and David Perron but the next deal announced was Dominik Kubalik.  I love his two-year, $2.5 million deal.  This is a cheap, short-term move with nothing but upside.

Chiarot, however, concerns me.  Four years at at $4.75 million cap hit feels like it will age horribly.  That said, the cap should start increasing so it may not hurt as much as it looks like right now.  There’s some hope there, but hope is not a strategy.

Perron rounded out the day at the NHL level.  This one leaves a bad taste in my mouth but doesn’t appear to be a bad deal.  After all this time, I just don’t like Perron.  Now maybe it’s time for the Wings’ opponents to not like him, too.

Detroit also signed Matt Luff and Austin Czarnik to two-way deals, joining previously-signed Steven Kampfer as likely Grand Rapids-bound.

My takeaway after this big day of signings is that there is probably a forward on his way out of Detroit.  Robby Fabbri is expected to start the season on IR but that still pushes one of Joe Veleno or Adam Erne out of the lineup, which seems less than ideal.  Erne, in particular, seems redundant now and I wonder if Steve Yzerman might end up shopping him around.

Because I’m a jersey number geek, my other takeaway is that there are going to be a lot of people looking for new numbers.  Perron is likely to get his usual #57.  Simon Edvinsson has been assigned #3 in development camp but it’s not his usual number so it probably goes to Maatta.  Chiarot and Kubalik have both been wearing #8, which is currently assigned to Jake Walman, so two of those three will need new numbers.  Additionally, Staal’s departure to the Florida Panthers opens up #18.  Will Lucas Raymond switch to his usual number or will Copp, who usually wears #9, take #18 instead? Or is that what Kubalik, who has worn it for Czechia, gets?

I’m going to say Perron gets #57, Maatta gets #3, Raymond switches to #18, Copp takes #29, Kubalik wears the #89 he wore in the OHL, and Chiarot takes #2 or #77.

Red Wings Rally Past Penguins in Overtime

The Detroit Red Wings score two goals in the final three minutes of regulation and added another late in overtime to rally for a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night.

Down 3-1 with 2:39 remaining in the third period, Henrik Zetterberg scored to give Detroit life. With Red Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard on the bench for an extra skater, Danny DeKeyser sent a pass through the neutral zone to Zetterberg at the blue line. Zetterberg jumped between the Pittsburgh defenders and into the slot to snap a shot past goalie Thomas Greiss.

It looked like the game would be over just minutes later, as the Penguins gained control of the puck in Detroit’s end with Howard back on the bench, but DeKeyser blocked a shot at the empty net and the Wings turned it the other way.

With 39 seconds left, Zetterberg fed Pavel Datsyuk all alone in front of Greiss. Datsyuk attempted to fake out the Pittsburgh goalie but, finding nowhere to go, threw a pass back to an open Niklas Kronwall, who fired a shot back past Greiss to tie things up with his second goal of the night.

Justin Abdelkader would give Detroit the win with 44 seconds left in the overtime period. Abdelkader carried the puck into the Pittsburgh zone along the right wing and sent a pass across to defenseman Brendan Smith for a shot on Greiss. Greiss knocked it aside and the Penguins recovered but Zetterberg was able to tip Paul Martin’s clearing attempt right to Abdelkader in the slot to whack past Greiss.

Pascal Dupuis had opened the game’s scoring at 5:12 of the first period, snapping a shot past Howard on a two-on-one with Blake Comeau.

Olli Maatta made it 2-0 with 8:54 left in the first, picking up the rebound of his own shot from the high slot and cutting in from the left wing corner to squeak a backhander through Howard.

With 5:00 left in the period, Kronwall got Detroit on the board, stepping around Patric Hornqvist in the high slot to snap a shot past Greiss.

Chris Kunitz made it 3-1 for Pittsburgh at 8:29 of the second period, rifling a shot from the right faceoff circle over Howard’s shoulder.

Howard finished the night with 23 saves on 26 shots while Greiss stopped 27 of 31 Detroit chances.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. Each had three tries with the extra attacker.

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