Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta confirmed he will play Tuesdayagainst the Montreal Canadiens two weeks having after having surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his thyroid gland.
Maatta, 20, had the surgery Nov. 4, one week after the Penguins revealed that he needed the operation. Team doctors said then that even if the tumor was cancerous, Maatta would be able to recover fully without additional treatment. His estimated return time was within four weeks.
The tumor was initially discovered during Maatta's preseason physical, but it was determined that he would be able to play without jeopardizing his health. Maatta received regular playing time until having surgery.
Maatta appeared in 10 games before the surgery, notching six points (one goal, five assists) in an average 19:59 of ice time. In the three games he played following the Penguins' announcement that he would need surgery, Maatta recorded one point in an average of 19:28 on the ice.
As a rookie last season, Maatta played in 78 games and recorded 29 points. He finished fifth in the voting for the Calder Trophy and was selected to play for Team Finland in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The Penguins are 12-3-1, and their 25 points lead the Eastern Conference's Metropolitan Division.
- Mike Fiammetta