Name: Olli Maatta
2017/2018 Stats: 82GP/7G/22A/29P
Olli Maatta settled into his role as a second pairing defenseman this season and his underlying numbers will back that up. Maatta is middle of the pack in most advanced stats categories among Penguins defenseman and all of those same numbers are good for a defenseman with his amount of ice time.
Maatta sits third in Points/60 but the only two players above him were Ian Cole and Jamie Oleksiak, both who played 500 minutes less than Maatta in a Penguins uniform this season. His underlying offensive numbers were really good despite only posting 29 points during the regular season.
As has been a common theme with most of the Penguins defensemen we have graded to this point, their possession numbers are really good which means the Penguins are really good as well. The Penguins are a possession oriented team and they have players that create good possession metrics. When the Penguins have the puck, they are at their best and Maatta is a huge part of that.
Justin Schultz and Chad Ruhwedel were Maatta’s two primary partners this season but the numbers are all over the place when looking at how Maatta played with each. Paired with Ruhwedel, the possession number are very good but the goals for and goals against could be better. With Schultz, it’s the opposite scenario, the possession numbers dip but goals for and goals against is better.
It should come as no shock that Maatta is a positive possession players when on the ice with the Penguins big three in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel. All three of those guys drive possession which helps Maatta’s numbers but being a good possession player himself just amplifies his effect on the game.
Playing the left side is Maatta’s normal defensive position and his shot chart indicates that pretty strongly. Looking at his iso-chart in the first image, when Maatta is on the ice, that left side of the defensive zone is a cold blue which is exactly the color you want to see if you’re a Penguins fan.
Both of Maatta’s two main defensive partners, Schultz and Ruhwedel, are better when on the ice with Maatta as compared to another blue line partner. Another good sign that shows Maatta’s value to the team and his ability to improve the play of others.
Monthly Splits and Other Stats
Overall, the 2017-2018 season was pretty consistent for Olli when you looks at his stats from month to month. He did cool down a bit in the middle of the season but only slightly. He began the season with a terrific start, recording eight points in October, then picked up the scoring once again during the Penguins fight for the playoffs.
These are five most comparable players to Maatta in terms of contract according to CapFriendly.com. In case you forgot, Maatta signed a six year contract extension in February 2016 that pays him $4.08 million through the 2021-2022 season.
This past season, Maatta outscored all five of those players, some by ten or more points. Damon Severson of the New Jersey Devils was the closest to Maatta with 24 points.
Quotes and Praise
“I think he feels better physically and think, because of that, he has a confidence now that he didn’t have before. And we’re going to rely more and more on him.” —Jacques Martin
“He’s a good two-way defenseman. He’s got good offensive instincts. He does so much for us at both ends of the rink.” — Mike Sullivan
“You can just tell that he’s feeling better about himself on the ice. He’s a very important player for us.” —Bryan Rust
“You want every guy to play all 82. It’s easier said than done. He’s been through some different injuries throughout his career and dealing with some pretty serious things. I’m sure it feels good and we’re certainly happy for him.” —Sidney Crosby
Until the Ovechkin game winner tonight, Olli Maatta hadn’t been on the ice for a 5v5 goal against in the playoffs.— lil’ branzino (@vinnybatts) May 2, 2018
Olli Maatta out there just taking hit after hit and not turning that puck over. Great reads on the loose puck, great puck protection along the wall. Another under the radar shift from Olli.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) April 13, 2018
Rumors of Olli Maatta's demise have been greatly exaggerated.— Leah (@SeeyaLeah) December 17, 2017
I will not stand for any Olli Maatta slander.— jas (@j_a155) December 17, 2017
Not this year.
Olli Maatta resurgence year is in full force. Woke up from that parade nap with super powers.— The Pensblog (@Pensblog) October 17, 2017
From @jmarshfof, a look at the numbers (and video) of Olli Maatta's most consistent season since his rookie campaign:https://t.co/eZjGh1KdZI— The Athletic (@TheAthleticPGH) February 1, 2018
Even Strength/Fancy Stats: A-
All around this was a solid season from Olli Maatta in the advanced stats department. When he was on the ice the Penguins were driving possession which is the hallmark of winning teams. For a second pairing defenseman making just a shade over $4 million per season, the Penguins could do a lot worse. Maatta recorded 21 of his 29 points at even strength this season.
Special Teams: C
Maatta is never going to a top power play guy for the Penguins but he did manage to record eight assists with the man advantage this season. He also sees some time on the penalty kill but there is not much noteworthy to talk about in that regard.
Fans will remember his gaffe in Game 3 against the Capitals that led to the eventual winning goal in the third period, but defensively Maatta was very good during the Penguins 12 playoff contests. That goal in Game 3 by Alexander Ovechkin was actually the first 5v5 goal Maatta was on the ice for during the playoffs to that point. From an offensive standpoint, two points seems very underwhelming and you would hope to see more from a second pairing guy.
For everything that Olli Maatta has been through in his young career, it had to feel great for him to play a full 82 game schedule. Any time your best players are playing in every game its going to be a good thing for your team. A season after seeing the Penguins blue line reduced to whatever warm body they could find, it’s great to see multiple guys playing most of the season.
Overall 2017-2018 Grade: B
This was Maatta’s most consistent season since his rookie year which can likely be attributed to being 100% healthy for once. Maatta has found his spot on the team and has thrived as a stead second pairing guy. He has shown his ability to play significant time with different blue line partners and still be effective on the ice. His underlying numbers are strong and the Penguins are generally a better team when Maatta is on the ice.
How would you grade Olli Maatta’s 2017-2018 season?
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