Written by The Burgh Blog writer: Austin Tocco
Olli Maatta is a member of the defense crew for the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The 21 year old found himself on the ice quite a bit during this year’s run for the cup, especially towards the end of the playoffs. This young Finnish defenseman is beyond his years when it comes to hockey knowledge and played a major part in the Penguins success down the stretch of the season. This off-season, Olli Maatta will have to serve for his country in the military since it is a requirement for all males to do so in Finland, so instead of either resting or playing more hockey, the 21 year old will be in the military till the 2016-17 season starts again.
Maatta is extremely intelligent and has a great hockey sense. He can tell where every player is on the ice without having to make eye contact to drive away defenders. His defensive instinct allows him to dominate in front of the net to protect the goaltender in any way possible. His board play is also a key aspect to his game that makes him so tough to play against, his poke checking ability is outstanding and really allows the opposition to get flustered. Maatta also has the ability to set up quality chances in the offensive zone, and has the ability to put the puck into the net every now and then, it is difficult sometimes on rushes for defensemen to get a chance to score, but, Maatta finds a way to get a great scoring chance and convert. The great thing about this defenseman is that he is so young. He has many more years ahead of him to learn how to play the game the right way and most effectively. Having someone as knowledgeable as Sergei Gonchar leading the defensemen really plays into how well he can truly play. Maatta has a bright future ahead of him, he can be an all-star if he keeps improving each and every year.
The biggest issue that I have will Olli Maatta is his inability to control the puck in the defensive zone. When in the offensive zone, Olli finds himself turning the puck over quite a bit that costed him playing time during the first round against the New York Rangers. It might have been him recovering from his injury or nerves but he still turned the puck over and proved to be costly. After game 2, he found himself being a healthy scratch due to this allowing Derrick Pouliot to have a shot. Clearly, the coach was worried about this as well. Granted the kid is still 21, but you are a professional and playing for the greatest trophy in sports, you need to perform or there are many other players that will do it for you. Another issue with Maatta is his speed. He is easily the slowest player on the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has no speed which makes it easy for the opposition to turn him around when fetching a puck in behind the Penguins net. His lack of speed makes him look like a very timid player who can be beaten to any puck. If he turns the puck over, which happened quite a few times this year, it is extremely hard for him to make up for it due to his lack of acceleration. Olli Maatta has much room to improve, but at 21, he has all the time in the world to work on it.
2016 Statistics + Playoffs
+/- : +32
Final year of making $832,500. Next year begins 6 yr(s) / $24,500,000 which averages out to $4,083,000 a year.
Overall Rating: C+