Monday night’s “Battle of Coal Harbour” between Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon had another intriguing storyline as well.
Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh’s 19-year-old rookie defenseman, suited up for tonight’s Pens-Avs game — his ninth of the season. That means the club now has a difficult decision ahead: Keep Maatta in the NHL, using up a year of his entry-level deal in the process, or send him back to his junior club in OHL London and “save” a year of his deal.
According to a report in today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that decision had already been made. The Trib cited “multiple sources” who claimed Maatta would indeed stick with the Pens for the year but, prior to putting Maatta on the lineup card tonight, Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma refuted the claim.
“It’s not accurate to my knowledge that a decision has been made on Maatta to this point,” Bylsma said. “He’ll be playing in his ninth game tonight. Given the fact that we may be getting healthy in the next game or two, that would end up leaving us with eight defensemen.
“We’ll see how that plays out.”
Maatta has certainly done enough to warrant a spot on the Pens. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound rearguard had three points in eight games coming into tonight, averaging nearly 15 minutes per, thriving with the likes of defenseman Kris Letang sidelined due to injury.
Through two periods of tonight’s game vs. Colorado, Maatta had 9:22 TOI with two shots on goal.
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: All that’s been announced about Silfverberg is that he’s under evaluation and will not return.