Rumor has it — as the NHL approaches Wednesday’s trade deadline — that the Anaheim Ducks are currently shopping defenseman Sami Vatanen‘s name around town; the current price for someone of Vatanen’s caliber is still unknown.
Even though the young defenseman doesn’t necessarily have the experience of age on his side, he does have a pretty fancy resume considering the 22-year-old only made his NHL debut last year. In this season alone Vatanen has six goals, eight assists and an Olympic bronze medal to his name. Not to mention that Olympic resume also includes five assists in only six games; the most in 2014 of any Olympic blue liner.
The idea that Anaheim is willing to let go of someone like Vatanen seems silly when laying out the facts, but the reasons do exist. Vatanen has a 2-way contract with the Ducks, meaning he doesn’t have to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL. As players on the Ducks’ roster continue to return from injury he is the not so lucky duck elected to go.
With Vatanen’s most recent move to the AHL Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau addressed the media quite directly (via ducks.nhl.com), “I want to make sure he totally understands the reasons. I don’t want him going down [to Norfolk] depressed and thinking he’s not good enough. It’s just the art of the business.”
An unfortunate art of the business at that, considering Vatanen’s absence on the blue line is at times a very visible loss in the Ducks’ game. And other teams have seemed to take notice; early reports state that the Boston Bruins, Philidelphia Flyers and New York Rangers are all interested in adding Vatanen to their lineup.
With the regular season winding down and the room for errors in game tightening, the need for a slight defensive shake up in Anaheim is a very real possibility. But many fans hope that shakeup doesn’t come at the expense of Vatanen, who could very well sit as the star two way defeseman in a new era for Anaheim just a few short years down the road.
And while the decision to trade Vatanen is premature in many opinions and understandable in others, the Ducks do have a playoff run to consider; one in which they are very serious contenders for the Stanley Cup. But if Vatanen’s Olympic play is any indication of his ability to convert under pressure it seems the bigger the stage, the better he gets — which is exactly what Anaheim is going to need if it wants to win.