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Oll-in: Pens to keep rookie Maatta for season

Oct 24, 2013, 10:36 AM EDT

OlliMaatta2 Getty Images

Olli Maatta is sticking in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, the Penguins announced they’d be keeping their rookie defenseman for the remainder of the season, rather than send him back to his OHL junior club in London.

“Based on his play, we believe this is the best decision for Olli and the Penguins,” Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero staid in a statement. “We want to thank Mark and Dale Hunter and the London Knights for their patience and understanding.”

Maatta, 19, played his ninth game of the season on Tuesday against Colorado, meaning Pittsburgh had reached the limit of “free” games before the first year of Maatta’s entry-level contract kicked in. There was some debate (albeit minor) about sending Maata back to junior and salvaging a year on his ELC — especially since the Pens would have seven NHL defensemen on the active roster once Kris Letang returns.

But there was little denying Matta his spot on the team. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound rearguard has certainly done enough to stick around — he has three points through nine games, averaging nearly 15 minutes per, and has been thriving with Letang sidelined due to injury.

Related: Flames to keep rookie Monahan for season

  1. hockey412 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    They’ll have 8 on the roster, actually, with Maatta up (maybe that’s what you meant) – and really need to make a move. My vote is for Martin to go. Would hate to lose him this year, but would hate to see both him and Letang on the roster next year with Letang’s new contract kicking in.

    • aso513 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      Martin? That makes absolutely no sense, at all.

      • hockey412 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        No offense but your logic is difficult to debate with.

      • c9castine - Oct 24, 2013 at 2:37 PM

        it actually makes a lot of sense. obviously you start by acknowledging it would have nothing to do with the quality of his play, because hes been awesome. but there are a couple things to look at. A. he has the highest CURRENT cap hit of all our defenseman B. he is a hybrid defensive/offensive defenseman. hes isnt our number one in either category. Scuderi being the best stay at home, letang being the best offensive. so he doesnt really have a “niche” role. C. he is over the age of 30. D. he still has contract value. while niskanen is making less, he is younger and has only this year left on his contract. martin has this year plus one. A team trading for a top 4 defenseman (and in martins case, a top pairing defenseman)and giving up assets to do so is going to want to know that they have that said defenseman longer than just the remainder of this year. E. niskanen has matched martins play, production wise and defensive effectiveness, for 3 million dollars less. and he is much much younger. F. clearing 5 million in cap hits off the defense now would allow for a lot of space next year. With niskanens contract expiring, and some of the young bloods clearly ready to play, it would pave the way for a new niskanen contract in the 3.5-4 million dollar range (if he keeps playing the way he has for a year and a half) and also for those sub 1 million dollar salaries of the young guys. Furthermore, despite the fact that the cap will go up, it gives more room to sign a backup goaltender. Its ideal that we get one more year out of vokoun (assuming he is able to return at full health without further risk) but if we don’t. spending 2 million or more on a backup is not out of the realm, and clearly is important in order to be a contender.

    • Mike Halford - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      yeah, meant they’d have 7 if they sent Olli back to London.

    • bmscalise - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      That would be very, very dumb. And won’t happen (nor will trading Tanger, Orpik, or Scuds). Then you’d be left with only 3 legit top-4 d-men. Niskanen can fill in as a top-4, but he shouldn’t hold a permanent top-4 spot on a contender.

      And Ollie has never played anywhere in the vicinity of 82 games, let alone the 90+ the Pens hope to play this year. Chances are good he’ll wear down at the end of the year, just like Letang did as a rookie direct from juniors (if you remember, he got scratched from the 08 Finals, even before Bourdon died). He has to be broken in at some point – this year or next – so I’m fine with him staying up. But he certainly isn’t ready to be a top-4, and his minutes will need managed.

      • hockey412 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        It’s either Martin or Niskanen, I’m afraid. Not sure anyone’s taking Niskanen, remember that even Liles cleared waivers. With everyone healthy the team isn’t even cap compliant, I don’t believe. A move is going to have to be made and I can’t see paying over $12M for Martin and Letang next year. I do agree that Martin is a better power play quarterback (historically…not sure about what I’ve seen this year). But then why keep Maatta, a left handed shot that they used on the power play last game…unless they are grooming him for next year. Either way, a move needs to be made. They could keep using Engelland as a wing and keep 7 (rotating Maatta and Borts) and maybe they will…but something needs done to remain compliant.

      • jpelle82 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        i cant see them trading a top pairing defenseman 10 games into the season to make room for a 19 yr old bottom pair kid. big picture it just doesnt make sense at this point of the season. orpik and martin shouldnt be going anywhere until the offseason, that would be irresponsible to do with the overall goal of making it back to the finals. niskanen is the clear and obvious choice if a trade has to be made, his value is high right now and they would shed 2.5 million in the process. this is exactly why he only got a 2 year deal when they resigned him. i could care less if they got rid of bortuzzo, he’s tough but he’s 24, a 3rd round pick, slow to develop, and i didnt like how he handled his contract situation either. someone will take him and i wouldnt care if the pens only got a 6th round pick for him to make that deal happen, just like the ben lovejoy situation, he’s a good fill-in guy and deserves a better shot with a less competitive roster somewhere else. i would hate to see engelland go but when bennett, neal, or dagostini come back the pens will be back to dressing 12 again up front and he would be a perennial scratch barring injuries on the blue line.

      • c9castine - Oct 24, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        letang played his first 10 games in the AHL that year and it was a completely different situation with a different type of player. Letang was breaking into the league at a time when everybody else on the team was about as young as he was. maatta seems to be a more mature player at age 19, and is surrounded by veterans and a wealth of experience and knowledge. olli played about 80 games last year and then rolled right into having a great training camp and making what might be the toughest team in the league to make. i wouldnt worry about how much hes going to play.

    • steelpenbucs87 - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      This makes absolutely no sense. You don’t move Martin was the best defenseman on the roster last year and looks solid this year.

      Your point about the contract is moot as a) the cap will go up next year with all the new HRR coming in from the outdoor series, b) Orpik and Niskanen (and sutter, and glass, jokinen, and Vokoun) all come off the cap.

      You have two real options to move. One, you sell high on Niskanen (who is off to a great start), or you dump Engelland for nothing.

      Either way your out of your mind to move Martin now.

      • basedrum777 - Oct 24, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        What on earth has Engelland or Bortuzzo ever shown that is not imminently replaceable on an NHL roster?
        Flip a coin on those two….

      • steelpenbucs87 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:29 AM

        I agree to an extent with your sentiment basedrum, I don’t think they should be ditching any of their top quality options.

        With that said Borts is still young and has shown flashes of some good play – if between those two I would probably want to keep him.

        Engo has “sand”… and basically came up with Disco from Wilkes-Barre. As I said between those two the obvious choice in my mind is dumping Engelland. We don’t need a scrapper type – let Glass do that.

      • c9castine - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        Dumping engellend or bortuzzo doesnt solve the salary cap issue . Wed just be trading one of their salaries for maattas.

      • steelpenbucs87 - Oct 25, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        C9Castine – you don’t have to worry about the salary cap issues because Vokoun is going to on LTIR for the forseeable future (possibly the whole year).

  2. bmscalise - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Congrats to Ollie. In a couple years, he’ll have a permanent place next to Tanger. Makes me a little giddy to think about.

    So – when’s the trade coming? The Pens now have 8 d-men and 2 others, Despres and Dumoulin, that are NHL-ready in WBS. And it won’t be too long before this team is healthy – and no longer cap-compliant. I’ll give you one Matt Niskanen for a back-up goalie and a forward prospect, please.

  3. pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    @hockey412 I disagree with you on dumping Martin. Martin is better at quarterbacking the powerplay vs Letang. In my opinion there going to dump either Engo or Despres. Despres has been wasted here in pittsburgh so far. Yeah he’s a round one pick but that doesn’t mean much….just ask Angelo Esposito or Luca Caputi. Despres is never going to get the proper development here. Engos story is nice but he’s expendable. Eventhough I’m not huge on Bortuzzo he’s younger and as more upside as opposed to Engo. I’d like to see us dump Niskanen preferably but he’s a solid fixture when replacing an injured player. Sure he’s a top 4 on a lot of lower level teams but on the Pens he’s a solid number 5 who as I stated earlier can help fill an injury in the top 4. My only concerns are that Disco won’t use Maatta properly because much like Tomlin they both won’t play rookies but then again he could prove myself and others wrong…well just have to see. Now we find a good solid backup goalie…ASAP!

    • hockey412 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:07 AM

      Does trading Engo and Despres help them all that much? Engo is the 8th man (hell they’re using him as a wing now) and Despres isn’t even in that group of 8. I do think Martin is better than Letang on the Power Play – and he’s a different shot too, once Letang is back they’ll have two right handed shots that are “decent” on the power play…so if someone would take Niskanen ok then. But spending over $12M on Martin and Letang next year doesn’t sound right. But Bortuzzo and Maatta need to play (Maatta is a left handed shot and they put him on the power play last game too).

      • steelpenbucs87 - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        It doesn’t have to help them – they’re clearing roster space. DMen are expendable right now given the talent on the ice and the depth in the system. The money is not the issue either as per my previous comment.

        They’re contenders right now and you dont ditch one of your top DMen when you’re trying to win a cup.

  4. erbaker67 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    He has played extremely well. I do think that Martin or Niskanen will have to go. Either or, is fine with me, I would also agree that Id prefer Martin just because the Penguins have enough Left Handed players on the team and since both are playing well, the return for either of them should be enough for a low cost 2nd or 3rd line guy.

    This is my opinion and probably a good reason I am not a NHL GM but, to me, that makes the most sense. Martins cap space will be a relief as well come next year.

  5. billgatesbarber - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Does he have to stay with the Pens all season or can they send him to Scranton?

    • pens87 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      No, he can’t be sent to the AHL. Quoting another article here… “The NHL/CHL agreement states that a player with junior eligibility signed by an NHL team must be returned to his junior team if he’s not playing in the NHL” So basically if they were not going to send him back to his junior team, he has to stay in the NHL.

      I for one am happy he is staying. I know we are loaded with defense at the moment, but his play has been solid so far both defensively and offensively. Hope he can keep it up going forward. Congrats to the kid.

    • bmscalise - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      It’s Pittsburgh or juniors.

  6. pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Well then what about trading Orpik and getting rid of $3.75 million cap hit? He’s a free agent at years end…same with Despres as he’s in the last year of his entry level? Martin and Orpik are solid shutdown defensemen when paired.

    • hockey412 - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      i think you are right, and it could happen. chances are they aren’t trading martin, I just hate the thought of losing orpik (sounds like blasphemy). If they can find a home for niskanen he may go, too (but that’s a big if). he’s the only one with no ntc to contend with.

  7. pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    Now if the cap stayed at $70 million we wouldn’t be having the questions but we do. Plus in my opinion Martin was on pace for a Norris Trophy like season last year had he not gotten hurt.

  8. c1md6 - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Hahahaha all down hill from here!

    • jpelle82 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      yup, having a 19 yr old first round pick make the team means downhill for the organization. this is a problem any team in league would love to have.

  9. pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    @c1md6 you my friend are an assclown

  10. ruthlessburgher - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Gotta love the Letang-Scuderi, Martin-Orpik, and Maatta-Niskanen pairings (with Bortuzzo in the wings to give Olli a breather now and then, since he’s never been subjected to the rigors of an NHL regular season before…particularly in an Olympic year that is more compacted that usual). Engelland may end up playing more time as a 4th line winger than a 3rd pair blueliner this year.

  11. c1md6 - Oct 24, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Ass clown?! At least we’re not the laughing stock of the league, bankruptcy to sell outs…Pittsburgh frauds, 99% of your fan base are Pittsburgh Crosby fans. Embarrassing. Watch a real team tonight light up the Rangers, another embarrassing franchise with a ridiculous fan base that hasn’t won a cup in 20 years even with sell out crowds and money. What a joke.

    • cheesesteak75 - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:53 PM

      Your team is 1-7. That’s a real team?! Your words have removed all doubt, you are indeed an assclown!

    • sfbookreviews - Oct 25, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      It’s so adorable when children use the internet. I just want to pinch your ignorant little cheeks.

      I find it hilarious how you call out the Rangers for not having won a Cup in 20 years when it’s been over 35 years since the Flyers lifted it. Too funny. Though to be fair, your boys scored 2 goals, which for them, is indeed lighting it up. Maybe some day before the season ends they’ll get 3 whole goals in a game.

      As for your claims about Penguin fans, I’ve been a die-hard since 1980. And in that time I’ve seen them win the Cup three times. It’s a shame you don’t know how exciting that is.

  12. pitpenguinsrulez - Oct 24, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    @c1md6 I’m glad that qwerty keyboard makes you seem all mighty tough and big. Have fun in Love Park

  13. csilojohnson - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    At first I thought “assclown” was a little harsh…….Then c1md6 proved me wrong with the same old tired generalizations.
    What a douche..

  14. csilojohnson - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    Im sure the “Metropolitan Loser Classic” will be a great game…….

  15. Hockeyfan - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Are these posts monitored? No delete for jerks?
    Anyway, great decision to keep Maatta. He is solid and will only get better with this team.
    Reminds me of the decision to keep Staal as an 18 yo.

  16. c1md6 - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Loser classic? Yeah because the choke artist Pens win so much, last time they played orange in the playoffs they cried all the way to the golf course. I’m sure you’re just a 2006 to present fan like the other 99% of your pathetic fan base.

  17. csilojohnson - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Your kindergarden insults are music to my ears. Try that same choke routine on a Devils thread. In all your comments youve said nothing good about “Your” favorite team.. Hard to find these days eh?
    You should spend your time insulting the Flyers front office for screwing up a good team with idiotic contracts and trades. Would be a better use of your time. Or you can continue giving Pens fans something to laugh at.

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