Detroit Hockey Now’s Red Wings Review series is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature defenseman Olli Maatta.
2022-23 totals (GP-G-A-P): 78-6-17-23
Contract Status: Signed through 2024-25 season
Olli Maatta was among a raft of unrestricted free agents signed last summer by the Detroit Red Wings. The veteran defenseman was inked to a one-year pact. However, Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman was so impressed by Maatta in his winged wheel debut that he was opting to sign Maatta to a two-year contract extension during the season with an annual AAV of $3 million.
“I put great value in really good people and high-character people and Olli is a real professional,” Yzerman said in explaining his decision to extend Maatta. “He shows up every day. He’s there early, he’s training. He’s prepared before practice, before the game and he’s there after practice, after the game.”
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Offensively, the season found Maatta delivering at a rate that was certainly above expectations. His 6-17-23 output was the best put forward by the Finnish defender since compiling 7-22-29 totals for the 2017-18 Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He’s been a good, solid steady defenseman,” Yzerman said. “He gets the puck up, he defends well. I’m very pleased to keep him. We were able to work out a contract that makes sense for him and I think makes sense for us and where we are and where our young defensemen are as well.”
2021-22 Red Wings Highlights
Offensively, Maatta was strong for openers. He would count 1-5-6 totals through Detroit’s first four games. While that level of output wasn’t realistic maintainable, Maatta would prove to be a reliable performer along the Detroit blueline.
He was delivering each of his 23 points while playing at five-on-five. Maatta was third among Detroit defensemen with 128 hits.
2021-22 Red Wings Lowlight
In December, a bout of pneumonia put Maatta on the shelf for four games and he struggled to regain his form upon returning from the illness.
“It was pretty bad, didn’t feel like the common flu at all,” Maatta said. “Took a couple days to figure that one out.”
Maatta has his own gameplan in place for offseason upgrades to his performance.
“I think I can be a little bit more aggressive and better with my gaps,” Maatta said. “There’s a lot of little things but there’s definitely things I can be better with. And also just my overall game. There’s always things you can be better with.”
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
The 11-time Stanley Cup winners do not look anywhere near Championship material. A good number of the sportsbooks offering the best betting bonuses in Michigan are not backing the Red Wings to come any closer next year.
The Red Wings view Maatta as someone who on the ice can be a top-four defender and off the ice, can serve as a mentor and an example as Detroit introduces its young defense prospects to the rigors of the NHL.
“I just think he’s a great professional and I think his play has made our D corps a better group,” Yzerman said. “Overall, I just think he’s been a real good pro and a good teammate and a good example for our players.”