Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta returned to the practice ice on Tuesday just seven days after having a potentially cancerous tumor removed from his thyroid gland.
Maatta skated on his own at MSG on Tuesday morning following the team’s morning skate.
The 20-year-old was initially expected to miss four weeks following surgery.
Penguins head coach Mike Johnston did not say Maatta is ahead of schedule.
“We’ll see what happens as far as a timeline goes for him participating with the whole team, but it really is amazing how he handles things,” Johnston said per NHL.com. “I just think for a young kid it’s more the mental side of things, how mature he is and how he’s able to deal with issues like that.”
Originally a first-round pick of the Penguins at the 2012 NHL Draft, Maattaa has a goal and six points while averaging 20 minutes a night.
“He’s an amazing individual,” Johnston said. “You see what he’s gone through and how he handles things, mentally and physically, it doesn’t surprise me.”