ON OLLI MAATTA
Age and the numbers game seems to say that 2012 first round pick Olli Maatta will go back to juniors at somepoint in the next four to six weeks. That said, everything coming out of the organization is that they feel Maatta, just 19 years old, is so close to being NHL ready that they have an open mind on the junior eligible defenseman legitimately pushing for a roster spot.
“He’s a guy who has played a lot of big hockey games,” Dan Bylsma said of Maatta today. “He’s played a lot of important hockey games, and while he’s still a teenager and could go back to junior potentially, he’s a guy who a lot of people talk about, scout him and say he’s ready for the next step, NHL ready,” Bylsma said. “And he’s going to get that opportunity tonight.”
Bylsma speaking glowingly about Olli Maatta shouldn’t come as a surprise and I don’t feel he was exaggerating one bit. The kid is the real deal as I’ve been writing about for months. What the Penguins love about him is his presence as a do it all defenseman.
Starting tonight vs Detroit Red Wings where he will be paired with Kris Letang, don’t be surprised if Maatta comes out in the preseason and proves that he’s NHL ready and gets the Penguins strongly thinking about a 10-game window.
I had a team source tell me with confidence that Maatta is a good bet to be a regular on the blueline for the 2014-2015 season.