Penguins' Olli Maatta out six weeks after hand surgery

GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 11: Olli Maatta #3 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on February 11, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have done well this season despite injuries hitting their lineup seemingly every week. Add another one to the list as the team announced Friday morning that defenseman Olli Maatta will miss the next six weeks after undergoing hand surgery.

Maatta injured his hand during Thursday night’s win over the Winnipeg Jets. During the second period, he took a hit from Adam Lowry and fell to the ice, landing on his hand. It wasn’t the best of middle frames for the Penguins as they also lost Justin Schultz, who will likely miss at least Friday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy have been recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The 22-year-old Maatta has been through a number of physical ailments in his four-season NHL career like multiple shoulder surgeries, the removal of a cancerous tumor, mumps and now hand surgery. One day he’ll be able to catch a break.

What does the loss of Maatta and potentially Schultz do to GM Jim Rutherford’s trade deadline plan? “You’re always looking at your defense. But that’s what everybody else is looking at,” he told the Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari earlier this week.

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Maatta is second on the Penguins in total shorthanded ice time (2:21 per game), so his absence until just before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coupled with whatever might be ailing Schultz, could now press Rutherford to swing a deal for some insurance on the back end. He’s up against the salary cap ceiling, but Cap Friendly tosses out a unique scenario:



That would free up plenty of room to make an addition — and possibly even more if Marc-Andre Fleury is also dealt. You might remember the Chicago Blackhawks doing this with Patrick Kane in 2015, allowing them to go out and bring in Antoine Vermette. That worked out pretty good for them.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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