History says Olli Maatta has little chance to win the Calder Trophy. His teammates believe he should be strongly considered. Maatta, the smooth 19-year-old defenseman whose two-way game has blown away the Penguins' coaching staff and his teammates, enters Thursday's game in Los Angeles on quite a roll. He also plays in a league that has given the Calder Trophy — awarded annually to the league's best rookie — to a defenseman just 10 times in nine decades. “The biggest reason it hasn't happened more is because it's rare to establish yourself at a young age at this position,” defenseman Paul Martin said. “It's harder for defensemen.” Maatta, though, continues to make believers out of the Penguins. He has 19 points and is a plus-10 through 52 games while being called for only six minor penalties. “He absolutely deserves consideration,” Martin said. “That's how good he's been.” His solid early play was only an appetizer to Maatta's dependable work while the Penguins played without five defensemen for a lengthy stretch in December, putting him on the top pairing against some of the game's best. And now, the offensive facets of his game are blossoming. Maatta has produced two goals and five assists — none of which have been aided by the power play — during his past 10 games. “The last time I saw a rookie defenseman have this kind of an impact was Rob Blake with the Kings (during the 1990-'91 season),” assistant coach Tony Granato said. “We've asked him to do more than we ever ask rookies to do: top unit, playing against the top players, killing penalties, playing the power play.
Pens believe defenseman Maatta deserves top rookie consideration
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Jan 30