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Penguins notebook: Maatta skates with lineup mainstay Niskanen during practice

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By Josh Yohe
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 7:06 p.m.
 

• Defenseman Olli Maatta might be staying with the Penguins. Maatta, who has played nine NHL games and could be returned to his junior team in London, Ontario, practiced with the Penguins on Wednesday. “It's awesome to be here right now,” he said. “I haven't heard anything yet. I'm kind of nervous about it. I'm doing my best to be ready to play on Friday.” The Tribune-Review reported Sunday that the Penguins intend to keep Maatta past the nine-game cutoff, which requires teams to send teenagers back to their junior teams or trigger their first NHL contract. Coach Dan Bylsma said no decision has been made regarding Maatta, who was paired with Matt Niskanen during practice. Robert Bortuzzo and Deryk Engelland skated together. Bortuzzo and Engelland have been healthy scratches at times this season. Niskanen has been among the league's better defensemen. “I just have to be ready for anything,” Maatta said. “Whatever happens, happens.”

• Forwards Harry Zolnierczyk and Chris Conner were returned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Neither player scored in limited action with the Penguins, though the coaching staff said it was pleased with Zolnierczyk's physical play last Thursday in Philadelphia.

• Right wing Matt D'Agostini practiced again and is cleared to play Saturday in Toronto, when he will be eligible to be removed from long-term injured reserve.

• The Penguins had their longest practice of the season Wednesday, skating for 75 minutes at Southpointe while working extensively on one-on-one and special teams drills.

— Josh Yohe

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