Penguins notebook: World Junior decision on Maatta pending
The Penguins have not determined whether rookie defenseman Olli Maatta will be loaned to Finland for participation in the World Junior Championship.
Management will base that decision on how Maatta is playing when national teams begin training for the event in mid-December. The tournament runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.
Maatta, 19, will have this season count as the first toward free agent eligibility if he is on the Penguins' roster for their 40th game. That game is slated for Dec. 27.
If loaned to Finland, Maatta would not be on the roster, or paid, until he returns to the Penguins, who are scheduled to play five games during the World Junior event.
NHL rules permit a junior-eligible player to be loaned, then returned, for the World Junior tournament. However, if returned to his junior club, London of the Ontario Hockey League, Maatta could not play again for the Penguins until after the Memorial Cup in late-May.
London will host the Memorial Cup.
Maatta has played in each of the Penguins' 23 games this season. He has spent the past couple of weeks with top defenseman Kris Letang as his partner.
Letang's projected partner, Rob Scuderi, may not play until late December because of a surgically repaired broken ankle.
Maatta began the season with the Penguins because of a knee injury that sidelined Letang the opening nine games.
Center Zach Sill was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL before the Penguins faced the New York Islanders. He played in one game after receiving a first NHL promotion Nov. 15.
The Penguins donated proceeds from their annual 50/50 raffle to assist Kevin Kenny, a local junior player who recently underwent spinal-cord surgery.
Kenny, 20, was injured while playing for the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Vengeance last Saturday. After crashing into the boards, Kenny did not have feeling at or below his waist.
Kenny captained the Quaker Valley High School club that won a state title in 2011-12 season.
Around the boards
Penguins assistant general manager Jason Botterill has not yet interviewed for Buffalo's general manager vacancy. ... Islanders left winger Thomas Vanek returned from a five-game absence (upper-body injury). This marked his seventh game with the Islanders since a trade from Buffalo. … Right winger Matt D'Agostini and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo were healthy scratches for the Penguins.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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