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Maatta dazzling with offense

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By Dave Golebiewski
Saturday, March 15, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

With Kris Letang's health scare taking a perennial Norris Trophy contender out of the lineup and few forwards scoring aside from the Crosby-Kunitz-Malkin-Neal quartet, the Pens have turned to a 19-year-old Finn to spark the offense from the blue line.

Olli Maatta, a year removed from junior hockey, is displaying nearly unprecedented offensive talent for a teenaged defenseman.

After a modest start (he averaged .23 points in October and .13 in November), Maatta is besting goalies and setting up teammates like a contender for the Calder Trophy, given to the league's top rookie. His points-per-game total increased to .54 in December, .67 in January, and .73 during the Olympics-shortened month of February and March. Maatta boasts the highest points total among a bumper crop of scoring-savvy rookie defensemen.

Player Team Points

Olli Maatta Penguins 28

Jacob Trouba Jets 24

Hampus Lindholm Ducks 23

Seth Jones Predators 23

Morgan Rielly Blue Jackets 22

Source: Hockey-Reference.com

Maatta's scoring prowess at such a young age is even more impressive when considering that goals are scarce in today's NHL. Teams are averaging 2.76 goals per game in 2013-14, compared to nearly four per game during the early to mid 1980s.

While Maatta has 28 points so far, his adjusted points total, which accounts for league scoring levels, schedule length, and roster size, is 40. He's on pace for the fifth-best adjusted points total ever for a teenaged defenseman, trailing only seven-time All-Star Phil Housley and Hall of Famers Larry Murphy and Raymond Bourque. A look at the top players in adjusted points:

Player Team Year AP

Phil Housley Sabres 1983-84 61

Larry Murphy Kings 1980-81 59

Ray Bourque Bruins 1979-80 55

Phil Housley Sabres 1982-83 53

Olli Maatta Penguins 2013-14 51

Tyler Myers Sabres 2009-10 51

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