Olli Maatta is staying for a while. The Penguins will allow Maatta a 19-year-old defenseman to play in more than nine games multiple sources told the Tribune-Review. That decision was reached before Maatta's pivotal role on the tying goal in the Penguins' 4-3 shootout victory over Vancouver at Consol Energy Center on Saturday afternoon. Maatta the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft played in his eighth game. He cannot play in more than nine games without this season counting as the first of an entry-level contract. The Penguins' ninth game is against Colorado at Consol Energy Center on Monday. The number with more meaning for the Penguins regarding Maatta is 40 sources said. That is the number of games in which Maatta can play for this to count as an accrued season. Playing an accrued season could allow Maatta to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2019-20 season when Maatta would be 25. Management has not determined if Maatta will stay in the NHL for the entire season but only because the Penguins want to see how he handles the physical and mental grind the sources said. He continued to handle himself well Saturday. Maatta started then finished a 3-on-2 rush poking a rebound off left winger Chris Kunitz's shot past Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo with about seven minutes remaining in regulation. The goal Maatta's first in the NHL was scored 22 seconds after the Canucks had taken a 3-2 lead. “It was a pretty good play by (captain Sidney Crosby) and ‘Kuni'” Maatta said after receiving a congratulatory handshake from Penguins legend Mario Lemieux inside the dressing room.
Penguins plan to keep defenseman Maatta for more than audition
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Oct 20