Hakuna Maatta: Pens Sign Young Defenseman for 6 Years, $24.5 Million

Hot off my hot take of how much I hate the Penguins blue line, the Penguins have locked down one of their occasional glimmers of hope defensively by offering Olli Maatta a 6-year $24.5 million contract (that’s $4.086 a year). According to Pierre LeBrun, the Pens sweetened the deal by offering him a limited No Trade Clause over the final two years of the contract, allowing him to make an 8-team “No No” list. You can have some fun betting which teams will make the cut when that list comes into play…

So what do I think of the deal? I’m generally positive with it. Maatta is young and has shown promise each season, carrying a +18 and 16 points for the season over 53 games — a pretty solid feat for a team that has a  -1 goal differential so far. Furthermore, Maatta offers our defense something of an anchor to build around.

That anchor, however, has already shown some issues with injuries, and while he’s played in all but 6 games this season, his recent play has started to show signs of wear and tear (he’s -1 over the past 5 games). Last season, he only saw ice time in 20 games (though to be fair, he was also a casualty of Mump-a-Geddon), and for a contract of this length, drastically shortened seasons can be a big concern. For now all we can hope is that 2014-2015 was an aberration and Maatta continues to grow into a rock-steady blueliner, something this team desperately needs.

Overall, though, I think it’s a smart spend against the cap for the Pens, and I’m glad to see the Pens rewarding the promising young defender and betting on his future success.

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