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Selanne holds Penguins rookie Maatta in high regard

Mar 8, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 04: Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates during warm ups prior to a game against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on March 4, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Teemu Selanne has been in the NHL longer than Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta has been alive, but as the 43-year-old forward’s career nears its end, he can’t help but be impressed by how Maatta’s is beginning.

Selanne got to know Maatta during the 2014 Winter Olympics when the two played key roles in leading Finland to the bronze medal.

“Even at the Olympics, when he played best against best, he was so calm,” Selanne told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He didn’t look like he was a first-year player. It was fun to follow him.

“And also off the ice — how much work he does every day for preparation. It’s truly professional stuff.”

Selanne certainly isn’t the first person to see something special in Maatta. During the Olympics, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo said that he can’t see the ceiling for Maatta.

Even as a rookie, the Penguins are relying heavily on Maatta right now as they try to get by without blueliners Kris Letang and Paul Martin. The 19-year-old has logged at least 20 minutes in each of Pittsburgh’s last seven games.

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