With all due respect to Sidney Crosby and the series of concussions he has fought through his entire career, is there anyone on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster who has endured as much as defenseman Olli Maatta?
The 23-year-old blue liner has overcome cancer, reconstructive surgery and a litany of nagging injuries to finally emerge as the Penguins top defender. Finally healthy for the first time in his career, Maatta has been a revelation for the Penguins this season, potting two goals and 13 points in 29 games. He’s on pace to shatter his career high of 29 points, established in his rookie season and has nearly doubled his point total from last season already.
“I think he's back now,” said Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin. “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.”
That’s a good news for the team and its fans who weren’t sure exactly where Maatta slotted into the team’s lineup after two inconsistent seasons. If Maatta can stay on his current trajectory, there’s no doubt that he’ll become one of the team’s biggest contributors in their quest for a third consecutive Stanley Cup.
So, what’s your take? Has Maatta been the Penguins’ best D so far this season?