It was nice to imagine what the Pens could have looked like entering the playoffs, having traded Paul Martin for a more complete top-six forward group or with a seven-man defense corps resembling something like that deep, effective group that helped the team win it all in 2009.
Olli Maatta would have been part of the equation either way. However, it now looks like that shoulder injury will keep him out of action for the rest of the year.
Maatta had been skating with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar prior to Penguins practices and gameday skates, but the rehabilitation didn't have its desired effect.
"The rehab did not work," one source said.
Now, Maatta's doctors are deciding whether he will need a second surgery. He had a labrum tear repaired in May 2014.
"The doctors are having discussions here now (Monday) and in the next few days," the same source said. "There will be a decision made fairly shortly."
This has not been Maatta's year. He recovered from the initial shoulder injury, suffered last year, to join the team for the start of the year. That was short-lived, though, as Maatta has dealt with cancer, mumps and an aggravation of the same shoulder injury since then.
If surgery indeed becomes the only option, Maatta's year will be over, likely no matter how long the team's postseason run.
That puts a pin in things, not the least of which is losing one of the best four or five defensemen on the team. Pittsburgh's got the depth to deal with the loss. However, it removes a number of options at the trade deadline, where Martin now looks as indispensable as ever.