The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed their 2012 first-round draft picks, defensemen Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta, to three-year entry-level contracts, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.So why sign these guys just days before the NHL locks out all the players starting 9/15 if/when there's no agreement with the union?
Both contracts will begin whenever they turn professional.
Pouliot, 18, was the first of Pittsburgh’s two first-round draft picks after being chosen 8th overall with the selection acquired in a draft-night trade from the Carolina Hurricanes. Pouliot attended Pittsburgh’s prospect development camp in July.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Pouliot had a breakout season with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2011-12, ranking second among team blueliners behind fellow Penguins prospect Joe Morrow with 59 points (11G-48A) in 72 regular-season games. His goal, assist and point totals were all career highs.
Maatta, 18, was drafted by the Penguins with the No. 22-overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft held at CONSOL Energy Center.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound Maatta spent his first season in North America during the 2011-12 campaign with London of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), helping the Knights win the OHL playoff championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup.
Maatta, a native of Jyvaskyla, Finland, joined the Knights after being the No. 1-overall selection of the 2011 Canadian Hockey League import draft. He earned a berth on the OHL First-Team All-Rookie squad after tallying 32 points (5G-27A) and a plus-25 rating in 58 regular-season games. Maatta led all Knights’ blueliners in goals, assists and points.
What else- money. One of the minor issues to discuss will be rookie compensation, and it's tough to tell how that might go. The league is pushing for 5 year entry level deals (instead of the 3 year deals both Pouliot and Maatta signed today). This would keep the player under control for a longer time at a lower rate. However, you never know if a top 10 pick might be allowed more than the sub-$1 million that Pouliot and Maatta will make, so better to just get them under contract and be ready to see what the labor climate looks like when it's resolved for them team.