Penguins plan to keep Olli Maatta on NHL roster

Bruce Bennett

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be keeping Olli Maatta on their NHL roster, according to a report from the Tribune Review.

Pittsburgh Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta scored his first NHL goal in their 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon.

That wasn't the only good news that was coming his way on Saturday.

Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports the Penguins plan on keeping Maatta on the NHL roster beyond nine games and will not return him to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. NHL teams are allowed to give players a nine-game tryout in the NHL before sending them back to their junior team without counting against their entry level contract.

According to Rossi, the Penguins aren't worried about the nine-game tryout and using a year of his entry level deal, they are more concerned about him playing 40 games. If he plays more than 40 games that will count as an accrued season in the NHL and allow him to reach unrestricted free agency at the age of 25.

Under the new CBA players are eligible for unrestricted free agency after seven seasons, or at the age of 27, whichever one comes first. If the Penguins keep him beyond the nine games it will simply allow him to become eligible for restricted free agency a year earlier.

Maatta, 19, was one of the Penguins' two first-round draft picks (No. 22 overall) in 2012 and made the opening night roster this season out of training camp. He has appeared in eight games this season and been a nice addition to the backend of their defense forming a nice third-pairing alongside fellow youngster Robert Bortuzzo.

The injury to Kris Letang has allowed him to stay in the lineup on a regular basis, but once Letang returns it will create a logjam on the blue line as they will have eight defensemen on the roster. There are, however, ways around that. Matt Niskanen's name has been mentioned in trade speculation since the summer, while Deryk Engelland has been used at forward the past two games.

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