Penguin’s Olli Maatta earns Calder Trophy recognition with solid season

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The Pittsburgh Penguins is a team that has been  fortunate when it comes to rookie talent.
This organization cultivated the careers of hockey greats like Mario Lemeux and Jaromir Jagr.
They also drafted and still boast the superstars of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
This season, Pittsburgh has a new rookie sensation: 19-year-old Olli Maatta.
Maatta was drafted No. 22 overall by the Pens in 2012.
He spent the 2012-13 season with his OHL team, the London Knights.
At the start of the 2013-14 season, it was unknown how long Maatta would stay with the Penguins.
The team had nine games to decide whether to send him back to juniors, or keep him on the team all season.
Social media was abuzz during those nine games with everyone speculating Pittsburgh’s decision.
With the injury to Kris Letang, Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma ultimately decided to keep Maatta in the lineup.
It was one of the best decisions the team could havemade.
Maatta quickly found chemistry with Matt Niskanen.
Throughout all the Penguins injuries, this pairing has been the foundation for the defense.
Niskanen is having a career year, and Maatta is proving he deserves rookie of the year attention.
So far this season Maatta has played in all but one game.
In the game he missed, he was a healthy scratch because all the defensemen were healthy, and sitting him out would give him a rest.
Maatta is second among rookie defensemen with 28 points.
Maatta also has a plus-11 rating.
To put that into perspective, last year’s defenseman of the year, P.K. Subban, only has a plus-3 rating this season.
Olli Maatta is showing great poise for such a young defenseman.
While Maatta might not have a chance to beat out rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon for the Calder Trophy, he at least deserves a nomination.
MacKinnon, the rookie forward from the Colorado Avalanche, leads all rookies in both goals and overall points. (22 goals, 29 assists, 51 points) He was the number one pick overall in the 2013 draft and has been compared to Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane.
At this point, it looks pretty clear MacKinnon will get the Calder Trophy.
The last defenseman to win the Calder was Tyler Myers in the 09-10 season. Myers finished the season with 48 points in 82 games. Myers was also a plus-13.
Let’s compare Maatta’s numbers to a Penguins defenseman.
Kris Letang has been Pittsburgh’s cornerstone D-man for the last six seasons.
In Letang’s rookie season, he finished with 17 points in 63 games.
Maatta has 28 points though the same amount of games played.
Over his past 34 games, Maatta has 22 of his 28 points.
That is an average of .65 points per game. For reference Letang has averaged .73 points per game over the past four seasons.
Maatta is having a sensational rookie season with the Penguins.
A rookie season that some thought came too early.
Through his hard work and his defensive poise, Maatta is proving that he deserves Calder recognition, and is one of the Penguins’ most valuable players this season.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_facebook type=”standard”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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