The Detroit Red Wings invested in sureing up their blueline in 2023-24. The team opted to bring in some talent over the last few years to help revamp things and create consistency in the players starting most often.
Over the last two seasons, one of the familiar faces has been Finnish defender Olli Määttä, who signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings for the 2022-23 season. He signed a two-year, $6 million extension, taking home $3 million annually on his new deal from the Red Wings.
He has been a factor in the teams' defense core once again, especially in a year where Detroit has been competitive and rolling defenseman through the pairings, game in and game out. There's something to be said about Määttä being able to jump in and find a role, but he could be better.
Frankly, the output from Määttä could improve, and even if he's not playing top-pairing minutes, it feels like he should be bringing more to the table for the Red Wings. But, for now, Detroit will be happy with what Määttä can bring to the table for them and continue hoping there's more in year two of his extension.
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Olli Määttä needs to improve.
There's room for things to improve in the team's defense core. At times, the defense can be rough, which goes for layers like Määttä. It's not just him and is not solely his fault, but defensive collapse has caused the Red Wings to lose games and just lose out on points overall.
But, known as a two-way defender, Määttä still has to be able to contribute offensively. It's an area he can also improve for the Red Wings organization. In 2023-24, Määttä played in 42 games where he had two goals and 11 assists for 13 total points on the season.
He has 32 games to go and has time to snap things back in order, but Määttä needs to improve. His ice time is down in 2023-24, and it's likely a product of his struggles on both ends of the ice. The offensive upside may not be plentiful, but it feels like he should be able to score at a better clip.
I know Määttä has not always gotten the best opportunities, and he would thrive under a defender who matches his offense, in my opinion. But Määttä just has to be better. Some things can be improved, whether it's finding more offense and creating scoring chances or playing better in the defensive zone.
If Määttä wants to prove to be worthy for the Red Wings' defense core, it will take things like better play in the defensive zone to accomplish this. If Määttä can make better reads, play coverages well, and be smart in the defensive zone, it should translate to better performance overall in the home stretch.