#3 / Defenseman / Pittsburgh Penguins
6-2 | 206 | August 22, 1994
Jyväskylä, Finland | 22nd, 2012 (Pittsburgh)
|Assets||Has excellent size and offensive instincts for the blueline position. Plays a smart game in all three zones on the ice. Is capable of logging big minutes.|
|Flaws||Despite his 6-2, 206-pound frame, he doesn't initiate a lot of contact and can get pushes off the puck. So, he could stand to play a more aggressive game.|
|Career Potential||Talented big-minute defenseman with upside. (Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via The Hockey News player page)|
Career 25-Game Rolling Five-on-Five Corsi-For Percentage:
2015-16 Even-Strength Usage Chart:
Why you should know who he is: After playing two years for Dale Hunter in London of the OHL (well, Hunter was only there for part of that first season... not sure where he spent the rest of the 2011-12 campgain), Maatta may have seemed like a likely pick for the Caps in the middle of the first round of the 2012 Draft. (Full disclosure: that's one of two players we'd been hoping for.) But the Caps went in a different direction, drafting Tom Wilson, and the two will be on the ice as playoff opponents for the first time since Maatta's Knights knocked off Wilson's Plymouth Whalers in the 2013 OHL Western Conference Finals (check out a great pic of the two young pups doing battle here).
But just like this series isn't about Sid vs. Alex, it's not about Olli vs. Tom either (in fact, we're almost certainly the only people drawing the connection), so on to Maatta, who has quickly developed into a top-pair blueliner, despite having to deal with some health issues along the way. Skating alongside Kris Letang more often than not at five-a-side this season (and overwhelmingly more often since Mike Sullivan took over behind the bench), the third-year Finn posted a 52.4 Corsi-For percentage and a 63.2 Goals-For percentage (55.4/61.0 with Letang), while playing nearly 20 minutes per night, with some special teams work thrown in.
Maatta's point production dipped a bit this season, particularly under Sullivan (no doubt owing, in part, to differences between being paired with Rob Scuderi while playing under Mike Johnston versus skating with Letang under Sullivan, among other factors), but given the minutes he gets with the Pens' top players, he's never too far from racking up some helpers at a minimum.
How the Caps can stop him: There's been speculation that Maatta isn't entirely healthy (beyond the typical "everyone's banged up at this time of year"), so he might meet the Caps half-way when it comes to stopping him. If you've read any of our previous "Get to Know" profiles of other Penguin blueliners, this refrain will be a familiar one: forecheck aggressively and finish checks. As we've seen before, hits early in the series set up plays later on, and that's going to be an area the Caps will look to take advantage of again. Perhaps Tom Wilson and Olli Maatta getting reacquainted will be a storyline in this series after all.