The misfortune of the past few weeks in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization continued as the club revealed that standout rookie defenseman Olli Maatta underwent successful surgery on his shoulder Thursday. The recovery timeline has been set at 4-6 months, according to interim general manager Jason Botterill.
That's going to cost Maatta some crucial training time to continue to build strength and stamina this offseason in preparation for his second pro campaign. It could also cost him some of the actual season as well. Injuries are bad for any player, but they're particularly concerning when they come so early in a player's career, when they're still developing and learning.
Maatta had 29 points in 78 games as he proved that he was more than ready for a big role on the team despite being just 19 years old. He also had four assists in 13 postseason contests and was a member of Finland's bronze-medal team at the 2014 Olympics.
He is a key piece of the club's future and him suffering a significant injury in a crucial offseason is just a tough one for the Penguins. They'll have to hope Maatta has a speedy recovery and is able to make a return early in the season. It may not matter at all in the end, but it's certainly not ideal.
If he's on the early end of his recovery timeline, he may not have to miss any regular-season time, but if he's on the late side, he could miss a month or more.
That is another small hiccup for whoever the new general manager is in Pittsburgh to figure out what kind of structure he's going to be able to provide the head coach, whether it's Bylsma or someone new, on opening night.
The bad news didn't stop there for the Pens, however.
It also was revealed that Derrick Pouliot, the franchise's top defensive prospect, also required surgery on his shoulder. He went under the knife Wednesday and is also expected to need four to six months to recover.
At 20 years old, Pouliot is expected to make the jump from junior to pro hockey next year, though he is likely to start the campaign in the American Hockey League. He's in the same boat as Maatta in that he misses some crucial training time and will make his pro debut coming off a significant injury.
It seems this has been a rather costly season and postseason for the Pens. The good news is, they have a few months of offseason to get these guys healthy and regroup after such a disappointing run in 2013-14.