Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, who played 20 games last season after having surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his neck before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury, said Thursday he expects to be ready for training camp in September.
"We're on the schedule," Maatta told the Penguins website. "Obviously the goal is to be ready for training camp. Everything is going as we planned, so that's the goal."
Maatta, 20, had one goal and nine points last season. He didn't play after Dec. 6 and had shoulder surgery for a second time in less than a year.
"Just leave [last season] all behind me," Maatta said. "I don't even think of it. That's not on my mind. All I'm thinking of is the next season. Just being ready to go in training camp and the beginning of the season."
Maatta has been skating at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh and has met with his doctors, who have told him he is progressing.
"Getting healthy and better every day and every week," Maatta said. "Just trying to build up the muscle and fitness I lost during those four months. I actually feel pretty good [conditioning-wise].
Maatta played in 78 games during his rookie season in 2013-14 and had nine goals and 29 points and, if healthy, should provide the Penguins (who lost defenseman Paul Martin to the San Jose Sharks in free agency and have not re-signed Christian Ehrhoff) with a much-needed defensive boost.
"That's the goal," Maatta said. "I want to be there. I want to be a big part of this team and produce. That's what I'm driving towards, just helping my team all I can to win the Stanley Cup."