2013-14 Season in Review: Olli Maatta

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins 19 year old defensemen gets his season reviewed.


Age:
19 (August 22, 1994)

Contract Status: Signed through 2015-16; $891,167 cap hit

2013-14 Stats

GP

TOI/GP

Goals

Assists

Points

78

18:29

9

20

29

Corsi For %

Corsi Rel %

Quality of Comp. (TOI%)

Zone Start %

PDO

50.5% (3)

3.0% (3)

28.3% (7)

49.9% (4)

100.2% (3)

(Numbers in parentheses indicate descending rank among regular Pittsburgh Penguins players at his position, i.e. one of the team's top nine defensemen or top 14 forwards.)

Most frequent D partners

Partners

Goals For%

Corsi For%

Total 5v5 time (1193:43 for Maatta)

Matt Niskanen

60.0%

53.3%

558:35

Kris Letang

58.3%

49.9%

221:05

Robert Bortuzzo

40.0%

50.2%

156:13

The Maatta/Niskanen pair played more minutes together for the Penguins than any other d-pair this season, and they were largely a huge success in terms of driving possession and having the pucks wind up in the correct net more often than not. It was a good coaching job too, with Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin, ideally, getting all the heavy minutes, this freed the 19 year old Maatta to get favorable zone starts and a low quality of competition to play against.

Teenaged wonder

Olli Maatta ended up playing a full season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, quite the amazing feat for a 19-year old defenseman playing on a first place team. No small accomplishment there, and one aided by being in the right place at the right time. After Kris Letang got hurt, Maatta beat out all the other young defensive prospects to be in the opening night lineup. After 9 games the team was debating whether or not to send him back to juniors but elected to keep him the full-season and burn a year of his entry level contract.

In retrospect, it turned out to be a necessary decision, as soon as Letang came back, Rob Scuderi got hurt, then Brooks Orpik went down, then Paul Martin left the lineup and Letang would be in and out with injuries and maladies. The Pens definitely needed the strong performance that Maatta gave them.

Maatta hit his groove mid-season, scoring only 5 points in his first 28 games, followed by 20 points in his next 30 games that led up to the Olympic break (more on this later). Then, Maatta hit a wall as all the games at such a high level, only scoring 4 points in the last 20 regular season game.

Not World Juniors, Olympics

For a player that was eligible to play in the WJC Under-20 tournament (which the Pens did not allow him to go to), Maatta ended up making Team Finland for the Sochi Olympics. Once there he scored 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 6 games to play a major role in helping Finland to the Bronze medal.

GIF of the Year

Maatta_medium


This shows off all the mental poise and tremendous presence Maatta displayed all season long. That "it" factor that isn't defnied, but certain athletes and human beings just have. They get to the right place at the right time and they smoothly, calmly, cover up the mistake.

Oh yeah, and this kid is the youngest defenseman on the team and one of the youngest in the league. So smooth and cool like he's been doing it for years.

Preseason expectations

Not so sure that anyone had any. Mine were for Maatta to play well with his London Knights team in the OHL, possibly lead them to the Memorial Cup finals, be one of the best defensemen in the juniors and have a good WJC competition.

Turned out he did absolutely none of those things, playing in 78 regular season games in the NHL, 13 more in the playoffs and 6 more for his senior Olympic team. Unbeliveable amount of experience for the youngster, who now unfortunately will spend the summer rehabbing after undergoing shoulder surgery last month.

Verdict

This year would have to be considered a rousing success for Maatta. Expectations will now be a lot higher next season, with all the likely turnover on the blueline, Maatta might have to be a Top 4 defenseman, and he probably won't have his pal Niskanen to do it with. The Pens might try him more with Letang, or even possibly Paul Martin in the new "shutdown pair". Either way, Maatta turned himself into a core piece of the Penguins immediate future this season.

***

Feel free to vote in the poll below to grade Olli Maatta's season on a scale from 1 to 10. Vote based on your expectations for him coming into the season -- i.e. 1 being "he was incredibly disappointing and I want him out now", 10 being "he was outstanding even beyond my craziest expectations".

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