Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Maatta's New Deal: 6 Years, $24M

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Maatta's New Deal: 6 Years, $24M

Article excerpt

Olli Maatta beat cancer in the fall of 2014.Then, he recovered from major shoulder surgery.

Now, at age 21, he has set his sights on winning a Stanley Cup with the Penguins, who Friday locked him down to a long-term contract.

The six-year, $24 million extension, which begins next season, carries an annual salary-cap hit of $4.083 million and includes a limited no-trade clause that kicks in later in the deal.

"My mindset is I want to be a big part of this team," said Maatta, who was due to become a restricted free agent this summer. "I want to produce out there. I want to be able to play a big role. That's my goal. That's what I work toward every day."

Maatta, a first-round draft pick in 2012, has been among the team's finest young defensemen since he burst onto the scene in his rookie season (2013-14). He also is a player general manager Jim Rutherford had been trying to sign long term for some time.

"He's an important part to our defense," Rutherford said. "He's just a really well-rounded player kind of ahead of his time. We just felt it was important to give him the security and tie him up."

Despite his baby face, Maatta routinely is praised for his veteran decision-making on the ice and maturity off it.

"He seemed to have that pro mindset right away. He fit in really well. He came to work every day and just did what was asked," Sidney Crosby said.

"He was given a lot of responsibility at a young age. We had a lot of injuries that year. He was thrown into pretty quickly. I think that's something that's probably helped him out a lot, too."

"It's great to see young guys achieve like what he's doing. He's a [heck] of a player, a very smart defenseman and his decision-making out there is like a veteran," veteran defenseman Trevor Daley said.

In October 2014, Maatta learned some bad news. He was just 20 and thousands of miles from his native Finland and needed surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his thyroid. …

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