Olli Maatta is sticking in Pittsburgh.
On Thursday, the Penguins announced they’d be keeping their rookie defenseman for the remainder of the season, rather than send him back to his OHL junior club in London.
“Based on his play, we believe this is the best decision for Olli and the Penguins,” Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero staid in a statement. “We want to thank Mark and Dale Hunter and the London Knights for their patience and understanding.”
Maatta, 19, played his ninth game of the season on Tuesday against Colorado, meaning Pittsburgh had reached the limit of “free” games before the first year of Maatta’s entry-level contract kicked in. There was some debate (albeit minor) about sending Maata back to junior and salvaging a year on his ELC — especially since the Pens would have seven NHL defensemen on the active roster once Kris Letang returns.
But there was little denying Matta his spot on the team. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound rearguard has certainly done enough to stick around — he has three points through nine games, averaging nearly 15 minutes per, and has been thriving with Letang sidelined due to injury.