Maatta, 21, is in the midst of a nice bounce-back season, following a disastrous ’14-15 campaign in which he missed time to thyroid cancer, mumps and shoulder surgery. He’s spent most of this year as Kris Letang‘s defensive partner and has produced well offensively, with six goals and 16 points in 53 games.
Maatta is also averaging just under 20 minutes per night.
If the Finnish blueliner can overcome last year’s health hurdles — and it certainly looks like he’s on the way to doing that — this contract could be a real home run for the Penguins. At just a shade over $4 million annually, Maatta could emerge as one of the most cost-effective top-four defensemen in the league.
The 22nd overall pick in 2012, Maatta was set to become a restricted free agent this summer. He’s in the last of his three-year, entry-level deal.
Finally, it’s worth noting that in addition to his fine play with Pittsburgh, Maatta has also been a standout player internationally, having helped Finland capture bronze at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He finished second on the team with three goals in that tournament, despite the fact he was only 19 years old at the time.