During an afternoon practice Monday, the Pittsburgh Penguins paired defensemen Kris Letang and Olli Maatta together, speculating that they could be linemates for Wednesday’s game — according to Sam Kasan of the official team website.
Due to the injury to defenseman Paul Martin, head coach Dan Bylsma has been forced to find new pairings for his defense. And because Martin missed practice Monday, it also indicates he’ll most likely sit-out his second consecutive contest.
The combination of Letang and Maatta is something to keep an eye on though. Letang is arguably one of the top-5 best defensemen in the league, and Maatta is a highly regarded prospect who has solidified his spot on the roster at just 19-years-old.
Both players have the potential to benefit greatly from each other’s skill level, and although they’ve each struggled slightly towards puck management, their talent when put together could help balance that issue out. They also are both two-way defenseman, with smooth skating and possess the ability to make improbable plays.
Here’s what Letang reportedly had to say towards possibly skating with Maatta:
“You don’t want to put him in a bad spot or a tough situation. At the same time, he’s in the lineup because he’s able to play the game. I don’t treat anyone differently. I’m just going to try and make him a better player and put him in a good spot.”
Maatta has been paired with blueliner Robert Bortuzzo for the majority of the season, and Letang has for the most part been assigned to Matt Niskanen, but has played with various others as well.
When the Pens’ take on the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow at the CONSOL Energy Center, be on the lookout for the pairing of Letang-Maatta because we very well could be getting a glimpse at what the future holds.
The game can be seen on the NBC sports network, and is set to start at 8 p.m.