Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman fit a piece into his team’s 2023-24 roster puzzle when he signed steady defensive defenseman Olli Maatta to a two-year contract extension.
Maatta’s new deal averages $3 million per season. He joins Moritz Seider, Ben Chiarot and Filip Hronek as defensemen locked in for next season. Jake Walman will be an unrestricted free agent. The Red Wings have used him in a top four role this season, which suggests they would like to re-sign him.
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It’s fair to pencil in 2021 first-round draft pick Simon Edvinsson to play with Detroit next season. Maatta, Chiarot, Edvinsson and Walman are all left-shot defensemen.
Maatta could have been an unrestricted free agent this summer, and would have had no difficulty finding a job. Yzerman bumped his salary by $750,000 and gave him two years. Yzerman gave Maatta a one-year deal last summer.
Shutdown D Man
The Red Wings appreciate Maatta’s commitment to the defensive side of the game, and he has also helped the team offensively with five timely goals. It’s the most goals he has produced in five seasons. Maatta is +5 on the season for a Red Wings team that has given up more goals than it scores.
Given the number of teams looking for help on the defense, the Red Wings could have moved Maatta before the March 3 trade deadline. Now, it’s clear he’s part of the future.
The Finnish native is in the prime of his career and understands his ability and his role. He’s averaging 18 minutes per game, but has logged a less in the second half of the season because of the rise of Walman. But he’s injured. Over the past two games, Maatta has played more than 20 minutes.
Maatta, 28, is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, having played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. Olli Maatta started his career as an offensive player, but evolved into a shutdown defender over time.