Sep 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) and Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky (17) battle to control the puck during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With Letang Out, Maatta Gets Crack At Big Leagues

 

While Pittsburgh’s top defenseman Kris Letang is sidelined with a lower-body injury to start the season, prospect Olli Maatta is more than likely going to get his chance to show them his worth.

Maatta, 19, was selected by Pittsburgh in the first-round (22nd overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and has been receiving high praise from the organization ever since he competed in the Pens’ rookie tournament, held at London, Ontario.

Although he’s still young, his skill-level is genuinely matured, and because is potential is through the roof, the Finnish blueliner became an attractive player to fill-in for Pittsburgh.

There’s still no clear-cut evidence that he’ll get the start in the opener on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, but since Despres was sent down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and he’s been practicing with Robert Bortuzzo in recent days, one can assume he’s in the lineup.

Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, tweeted that he believes Maatta is in fact going to start.

Standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 206-pounds, Maatta has an NHL frame that’ll create longevity, as well as an overwhelming matchup for opposing players.  Despite not skating in a single NHL game, he’s got the tools to make an impact immediately.

A two-way blueliner with a more defensive-sided mind, Maatta has exceptional puck distributing dexterity, and the outlook on his offensive game can be just as successful.

And although he’s projected to stay only for the first nine contests, according to Yohe, Maatta plans to remain on the active roster for the long haul.

Playing in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) last season for the London Knights, Maatta recorded 38 points (8G, 30A) in 57 regular-season contests, and he scored 14 points in 21 playoff games.

Pittsburgh’s opener against the Devils is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

 

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