#WJC2013 Profile: Olli Maatta


Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Olli Maatta is in his sophomore season with the London Knights of the OHL; the Finnish defenseman was drafted by the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this year, and now he’s representing his home country in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Maatta leads Knights defensemen in goals, assists and points; he has 24 points (3-21) in 32 games with the London team this season, including one goal each on the powerplay and shorthanded, and is 11th in defenseman point scoring leaguewide.

The 18-year-old Jyväskylä native has previously represented Finland at the 2011 IIHF World U-18 Championships. Finland did not medal in the tournament, but Maatta was assistant captain and was named one of the top three players of the tournament for his country.

He also participated in the 2011 and 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships, going pointless in six games in the 2011 tournament before appearing in one game in the 2012 tournament.

Maatta was selected first overall in the 2011 CHL Import Draft and began his OHL career with the London Knights just a few short months later, making his debut with the team on September 23, 2011 versus Saginaw. He’d notch his first OHL point in his fourth game – an assist on a goal by Jared Knight in a 6-3 win over Plymouth on October 1, 2011.

He’d then go on to score his first OHL game just over a month later in a 4-3 win over the Erie Otters, against goaltender Ramis Sadikov.

The Knights defenseman ended his rookie season with five goals and 27 assists, and a plus-25, in 58 regular season games with London before adding six goals and 17 assists in 19 playoff games as the Knights captured the OHL championship before losing the Memorial Cup to Shawinigan.

When midterm draft rankings for North American skaters were released, Maata was listed at number six on the list – third best in defensemen behind Ryan Murray and Morgan Rielly. Final rankings saw him drop to eighth overall and fourth in North American defensemen – behind Murray, Rielly and Cody Ceci.

The end result was Maatta being drafted 22nd overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the host Pittsburgh Penguins team. He was the 10th defensemen selected and 12th North American skater, and signed a three-year entry level contract with the Penguins a few months after being drafted.

As the Knights return to OHL action looking to continue a historical 21-game winning streak, they’ll have to do without Maatta for now – at least until January 5, when the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships end with the bronze and gold medal games. Maatta is pointless in his last three games with the Knights, having scored one point in the month of December – a secondary assist on a December 1 goal by Max Domi.

Maatta and the Finnish junior team opened this year’s tournament with a 5-1 win over Latvia on December 26. The assistant captain had one shot and was on the ice for three of Finland’s goals: those scored by Granlund and Ristolainen, as well as one of Aaltonen’s tallies.

Finland, along with Maatta, team captain Petteri Lindbohm and fellow assistant captain Markus Hannikainen continue their 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships action on December 28 with a game against the Czech Republic.