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Olli Maatta In The Calder Mix

from Craig Custance of ESPN,

It's not easy for a defenseman to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. Just ask the Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin, who wasn't even a finalist last season.

However, what Olli Maatta and the Pittsburgh Penguins are doing right now, a six-game winning streak with a defensive group decimated by injury, is the kind of thing that sticks in the memories of voters who turn in Calder ballots after the season. Maatta has been unbelievable and the Penguins won again Thursday night, 5-2 over Brodin and the Wild. Maatta had a goal and an assist, and was a plus-3. He skated 21:46 and continues to establish himself as one of the game's best young defensemen.

The Calder race is shaping up to be even tougher than last season. Nathan MacKinnon is cutting into Tomas Hertl's early rookie scoring lead, Valeri Nichushkin of the Dallas Stars is charging back into the picture, and even the Tampa Bay Lightning's Tyler Johnson deserves mention for his efforts while Steven Stamkos is out.

But considering Maatta's age and position, it's hard to top the effort he is turning in right now.

more views from the ESPN Insiders on the games last night...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: olli+maatta


alwaysaurie's avatar

For me, the rookies who are most impressive are the defensemen - and I don’t think that Maatta’s the cream of the crop.

Lindholm - he “might” be the best d-man on a team that “might” be the best in the league this year

Gudas - His work before Stamkos went down was absolutely phenomenal, if Stamkos is back soon and Tampa ends up near the top in the East he should be considered - it’s an entirely different team with him back there

Gelinas - Surprising offense and great d-work on an otherwise lousy team

Krug - excellent offensively and very-good defensively, he doesn’t get as many minutes as other rookie d-men are getting but he’s on a team with much stronger veteran defensemen.

(DeKeyser - started very well it depends how he plays when he returns)

Jones - Heavy minutes on a bad team, he’s hit a rough patch but seems to be coming out of his bad stretch to now - his play isn’t good enough to consider for rookie-of-the-year but I’m mentioning him because we all know his name.

Maatta’s definitely in the top of this list, but I’ve like Lindholm’s work in all four games I’ve seen him play.

With the forwards - who’ll get all of the votes I assume - I don’t see as much talent as I see on the blue line.

I figure it’ll come down to:

Hertl - goals, goals, goals, assist, goals

McKinnon - getting better as the season goes along

Monahan, Johnson, Krieder, or Chiasson or whoever else has a strong second half.

And them whichever d-man separates himself from the rest of the rookie d-class.

Posted by alwaysaurie on 12/20/13 at 02:10 PM ET


Panthers Aleksander Barkov & Nick Bjugstad will be in the mix by the end of the season. Both centers play against the other teams’ top lines. Both have helped turn the Panthers season around. ESPN and their counterpart TSN almost never watch Panthers and always omit Panthers from any positive commentary.

Posted by Puckbubba on 12/20/13 at 02:19 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Maatta was selected by Pittsburgh later in the first round than the pick the Wings would have had if they hadn’t given it to Tampa Bay for Quincey. Would the Wings have selected Maatta? Who knows. But if they had, it’s almost certain he’d still be playing in GR, probably for another season or two after this one.

Quincey for a first-rounder is one of Holland’s dumber move – in a three-year period that was littered with dumb moves.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 12/20/13 at 02:58 PM ET


Maatta’s in the mix for the Calder about as much as I’m in the mix for the Norris.

Quincey for a first-rounder is one of Holland’s dumber move – in a three-year period that was littered with dumb moves.

If by ‘littered’ you mean three, sure.

Someday, OTC, you’re going to get your wish and you’ll have a GM in Detroit who isn’t Ken Holland… and whoo boy are you going to start longing for the days of Ken Holland almost immediately.

Yeah, the Quincey trade was dumb and both the Sammy and Tootoo signings have blown up in Holland’s face.  That’s what we refer to in the biz as ‘what happens’.

Holland also signed Gustavsson who’s play has saved Detroit’s season this year, and led the organization that’s drafted really, really well without an early pick for over a decade.  So sure, there are some scuff marks on Detroit’s marble floor and Holland’s ewearing rubber soled shoes.

Get over it.  It could be a whole heck of a lot worse, like it is for 27+ other NHL teams.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/20/13 at 03:48 PM ET

Primis's avatar

It’s not easy for a defenseman to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year.

It absolutely is.  Just ask Barret Jackman.  You don’t even have to actually be good, your chief competition just has to be from Detroit.

Posted by Primis on 12/20/13 at 04:33 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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