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Pens to keep Olli Maatta

The Pens make their decision on 19 year old defenseman Olli Maatta.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

From the Pens:

BREAKING: Olli Maatta will remain with the Pens.

Ray Shero: "Based on his play, we believe this is the best decision for Olli and the Penguin. We want to thank Mark and Dale Hunter and the London Knights for their patience and understanding."

There were good arguments and cases to be made for and against this decision, but when it boiled down to it, the Pittsburgh Penguins clearly felt the 19 year old Maatta could help them throughout the course of this season, and that his development will be best suited at the game's highest level.

With Norris trophy finalist Kris Letang expected back in the lineup on Friday, the Pens blueline will be healthy for the first time all season. This will probably bump Matt Niskanen to the third pair with Maatta, leaving for now sparse playing time for Robert Bortuzzo and Deryk Engelland until the next round of injuries happens to a Pittsburgh defenseman.

On top of that, prospects Simon Despres, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington are that further buried on the team's depth chart this season, since they are eligible to play in the AHL, and Maatta is not. The Pens, to be fair, can still decide to send Maatta back to juniors at any point, but then he'd have to stay there for the remainder of their season.

And, at least for now, that is not on the radar. Olli Maatta becomes the first junior age player to stick past the 9th game in Pittsburgh since Jordan Staal did back in the fall of 2006.