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Former first round pick ready to repeat brilliant rookie campaign

Possibly the best news out of camp!

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Olli Maatta was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2012. He cracked the NHL in 2013-14 and was a stalwart defensively, suppressing shot attempts at a very effective rate with Matt Niskanen, while driving the play offensively.

Injury and illness hampered his progress throughout the following seasons, resulting in a rather underwhelming year paired with Trevor Daley in 2016-17.

This season, he is slated to pair up with Justin Schultz, who, after a string of disappointing seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, put up a career year with Pittsburgh, earning himself a lucrative three-year contract extension.

Maatta often found himself hemmed in his own zone last year. The team bled shots with him on the ice and had way better results with him off it. He and Schultz have only played upwards of 60 minutes together thus far, but they’ve controlled well over 50% of scoring chances and shot attempts while on the ice. This is a marked improvement over the Finn’s numbers last year.

Olli Maatta’s defensive awareness will complement Schultz well, as the latter tends to make offensive pinches.

With Kris Letang healthy, add this extra defensive stability to an already elite Pittsburgh team, and we may see a three-peat yet.