Penguins rookie Maatta might still play in World Junior

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Defenseman Olli Maatta has played in all 23 of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ games this season. This will consequently count as the first season of the 19-year-old rookie’s entry-level contract.

At this point it’s unlikely they’ll have him play for OHL London, but Team Finland? That might be another story.

They can loan Maatta to his national team for the sake of playing in the upcoming World Junior Championship.

The event goes from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, but he would need to start training for the event in mid-December. In other words, the Penguins would lose his services for several weeks, but it’s still something they’re considering, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Maatta is averaging just 15:31 minutes per contest and his role might be further diminished when Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) returns. Maatta can’t be sent to the AHL for more seasoning because London still owns his non-NHL rights. If they do return him to the OHL, the Penguins won’t be able to recall him until late May. This tournament would give the Maatta an opportunity to log more minutes without being away from Pittsburgh for too long.

It’s worth adding that if Maatta plays in fewer than 40 games this season, then it will take him a season longer before he’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.