Olli Maatta: Fresh start comes in the form of a new season.
After his 29 points in 78 games played campaign of 2013-’14 the Finish defenseman was considered to be a big part of a Pittsburgh squad ready to return to playoff success. Unfortunately last season was nothing short of a catastrophic disaster for the 20 year-old. As the season began it was announced Maatta would need surgery to remove a tumor, caused by thyroid cancer, from his neck. His recovery was surprising quick and although he returned to the line-up in late November his shoulder did not hold up as well as his cancerous neck.
During the off-season he had the injured shoulder operated on, and upon his remarkable comeback, he reinjured the shoulder. He continued to rehab and practice with the team until January. Midway through the month the team announced he would miss the rest of the season with a second surgery to the shoulder. The bad news did not stop there as Maatta was also named as one of the Penguins players diagnosed with the mumps outbreak. Murphy’s law in full effect Olli Maata’s surreal 2014-’15 could have broken weaker young men.
Speaking on his possible return to the team by training camp the budding young defenseman told NHL.COM
“That’s the goal. I want to be there. I want to be a big part of this team and produce…, just helping my team all I can to win the Stanley Cup.”
In an effort to return to the form that made him one of the NHL’s most feared young defenseman, Maatta will need to stay healthy to reward the franchises’ confidence in him. During this off-season they have lost Paul Martin to free agency (San Jose) and appear not willing to re-sign Christian Ehrhoff. Despite adding Tim Erixon on the blue line, Pittsburgh is thin defensively with injury prone. Kris Letang and late season trade acquisition Ian Cole at the fore front, they will desperately need Maatta to head the second defensive pairing to perfection in order to get the proper offensive production from their three headed offensive monster Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.
* Photo by Getty Images
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