The Blackhawks traded defensemen Cam Schilling for forward Michael Latta. This move probably left many Blackhawk fans scratching their heads and wondering “who?” and “why?”.
The Blackhawks are flushed with defensive depth. I made a quick Rockford Icehogs depth chart to illustrate this point.
This is just a rough estimate and anyone can argue the ranking of these players. I tried to quickly rank them in relation to who would get called up to the NHL first if Chicago needed a forward or defensemen.
For Schilling, I would guess that Forsling, Gustafsson, Pokka, and Svedberg would be called up to the NHL before Schilling. That means Schilling is 5th in line for the NHL among D-men. Because of this, he wasn’t likely to impact the NHL team this season.
The forward group doesn’t have the same quality of depth as the backend does. Things start to thin out after Tyler Motte. Spencer Abbott was called up for one game this season, Kyle Baun made the 2015-16 opening day roster, but hasn’t been back to the NHL in a long time, Martin Lundberg has yet to play with the Blackhawks, but looks interesting. Who knows with Mark McNeill, and Brandon Mashinter isn’t an NHL level player.
Chicago has plenty of forwards that can play on the first three lines, but what about Quenneville’s grinding 4th line. Coach Q currently has players like Jordin Tootoo and Andrew Desjardins on the NHL roster. What happens if the Blackhawks want to send one or both of those struggling players down to Rockford?
This is where Michael Latta comes in.
Let’s look at the updated depth chart with Latta and minus Schilling.
Again, argue all you want about where he is ranked, and move him down if you want. IF Chicago needs a skill guy, they obvioously won’t call up Latta. However, Latta adds some needed forward depth for Blackhawks this season. Chicago is fine without Schilling, and could possiby use a forward like Latta sometime this season.
So who is Michael Latta?
Latta is the prototypical low event 4th liner. When he’s on the ice, his team and the opponent don’t take many shots. Nothing happens! That is something coaches value. A 4th liner that can hit the ice and not give up many goals.
Disclaimer: Obviously I would rather have a team that can role four lines with each line being able to make an offenive impact, but I’m just being realistic with the present day NHL landscape and how coaches operate.
For his career, Latta has been a good Corsi player considering his 4th line status. He has little to no offensive skill similar to a Tootoo or Desjardins. However, he has been a better Corsi player in his career compared to those two. This could be a low-key upgrade to both Tootoo and Desjardins.
None of these players are good enough to be playing in the playoffs, but the more depth for the regular season grind, the better.
Another aspect of Latta’s game is that of a shit disturber, pest, or whatever you like to call it. The player that works hard to to get underneath the opponents skin. He will also drop the gloves from time to time.
— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) January 17, 2017
Latta may never play a game for the Blackhawks and it’s not that important of a trade. However, I felt it was prudent to explain how the move boosted the Blackhawks forward depth slightly. Latta is more likely to play for the Blackhawks than Cam Schilling ever was, and in the end, I guess that’s what matters.