By: Casey Shea

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that rookie defenseman Olli Maatta will remain with the team and will not be sent back to his junior team.

According to the Penguins’ official website, the decision to keep Maatta was announced by General Manager Ray Shero Thursday morning.

“Based on his play, we believe this is the best decision for Olli & the Penguins,” Shero said. “We want to thank Mark and Dale Hunter and the London Knights for their patience and understanding.

The team was at a crossroads with Maatta after he played in his ninth game Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

The decision needed to be made whether to burn a year of Maatta’s entry-level contract now, or return him to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

The next decision for the Penguins will be whether or not to dress Maatta for 40 games. Should that happen, Maatta would become eligible for unrestricted free agency at age 25.

Maatta has certainly been impressive to this point, showing remarkable poise and ability.

Through nine games, Maatta has registered one goal and two assists. His first NHL goal came against Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. The goal tied the game at 3-3 and the Penguins went on to win 4-3 in a shootout.

The 19-year-old defenseman was selected 22nd overall by the Penguins in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Pittsburgh will welcome the New York Islanders to town Friday night at 7 p.m.

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