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Olli Maatta breaks hand, door open for a bigger trade?

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost defenseman Olli Maatta for six weeks after breaking his hand, but his absence could result in a bigger opportunity to improve the team.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

First the bad news - after playing pretty well since the all-star break, Oli Maatta caught a bad break, of his hand that is following this hit by Adam Lowry of the Winnipeg Jets last night.

Maatta was flexing his hand on the bench and wouldn't play any further. It was a quick diagnosis, as he already had surgery to repair the hand this morning.

From the team:

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta underwent successful hand surgery, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

Penguins head team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas of the UPMC Sports Medicine team performed the surgery.

Maatta is expected to be out of the lineup for six weeks, after injuring his left hand in Thursday's game against Winnipeg.

The six week approximation is perhaps the key, as the NHL playoffs are set to begin in a little over seven weeks.

This was famously done last year by the Chicago Blackhawks when Patrick Kane broke his collarbone in February, was on LTIR for the rest of the regular season and back in time for the playoffs.

Similarly, the Penguins put Sidney Crosby on LTIR in March 2013 when he broke his jaw and was out for the rest of the regular season. The added savings allowed the team the salary cap space to pickup forward Jussi Jokinen, who ended up being a key player for that season and the next.

Now, the question becomes what direction will general manager Jim Rutherford go in? Will Maatta's absence (plus the head injury suffered by Justin Schultz last night) encourage him to push a lot of chips into the middle and make a run to acquire impending free agent Kevin Shattenkirk from St. Louis?

It seems likely now with Maatta on the shelf for almost the rest of the regular season (if not the rest of it) the Penguins will have the need to add a defensemen. We floated Detroit's Brendan Smith here earlier this morning. Now