With their second first-round selection of the 2012 NHL Draft, the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted defenseman Olli Maatta of the London Knights with the 22nd-overall pick.
Maatta, 17, was ranked No. 8 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He joins Portland Winterhawks defenseman Derrick Pouliot, whom the Penguins chose No. 8 overall, in giving Pittsburgh multiple first-round picks for just the second time in franchise history.
The only other time the Penguins had more than one selection in the first round in 1984, when they made three choices, including No. 1-overall pick Mario Lemieux. That year the Penguins also took defenseman Doug Bodger ninth overall and right wing Roger Belanger 16th overall.
In his first season in North America, Maatta led all Ontario Hockey League rookie defensemen this year with 32 points (5G-27A) in 58 regular-season games after being the No. 1-overall selection of the Canadian Hockey League import draft. Maatta was teammates at London with Pittsburgh’s 2011 second-round draft pick, defenseman Scott Harrington.
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound Maatta’s strong play during the postseason propelled the Knights to an OHL championship and a runner-up finish at the Memorial Cup in May. Maatta posted a team-leading (tied) 23 points (6G-17A) in 17 playoff games. His 17 assists led the team.
The Jyvaskyla, Finland native represented his home country at the World Junior Championships each of the past two seasons, though injuries kept him off the ice for much of the 2012 tournament. In 2011, Maatta became the first 16 year old since 1998 to represent Finland in the event.
Maatta also represented Finland at the 2011 World Under-18 Championships, recording four points (1G-3A) in six games while being named one of Finland’s top-three players at the tournament.
By drafting Pouliot and Maatta with their two first-round picks, the Penguins have now chosen four defensemen among their previous five first-round picks. Last year the Penguins selected Portland blueliner Joe Morrow with the No. 23-overall pick; in 2009 the Penguins made Simon Despres of the Saint John Sea Dogs the 30th-overall selection.