Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta is scheduled to undergo surgery next week to remove a tumor from his neck that could be a low-grade thyroid cancer, according to the Penguins.
Maatta, 20, has been cleared to play until the time of the surgery which will happen next week.
“Olli will continue to play the rest of the week and then will have surgery next week,” GM Jim Rutherford said moments ago. The Penguins have three games this week against the Devils, Kings and Sabres.
Team doctors spotted the lump in Maatta’s neck during training camp.
Rutherford said it is “amazing” that Maatta has continued to play under the circumstances and it really is amazing how well he has played considering that Dr. Vyas says there’s an “85 percent” chance Maatta’s tumor is cancerous.
The best news is doctors strongly feel the tumor is very treatable.
Vyas does not anticipate Maatta needing radiation and feels Maatta will make a complete recovery and live a long healthy life. The Penguins anticipate that Maatta could return to the lineup within four weeks after the surgery.
“It’s an 85 percent change that it’s cancer,” Vyas said. “We don’t expect him to have to undergo any radiation or chemotherapy at this time.”
Maatta has emerged in a top pairing role this season with Kris Letang who had a stroke last January.
“I know I’m going to be fine,” Maatta said. “I know we have a great medical staff here and I know they are going to take care of me.”