The Anaheim Ducks have re-signed defenseman Sami Vatanen to a two year deal worth $2.5 million, per TSN. The former fourth round pick played 48 games in the NHL this year and tallied 21 points in that time. At 23 years old, Vatanen adds to an organization that is already stocked full of young talent.
Per the team’s press release on the signing, “Among rookie NHL defensemen, Vatanen ranked tied for fifth in goals, fourth in points-per-game (.44) and sixth in plus/minus.”
He was also a large presence for Team Finland at the 2014 Winter Olympics. “A native of Jyvaskyla, Finland, Vatanen won a bronze medal in his first Olympic Winter Games earlier this year in Sochi, Russia. Vatanen led all defensemen and ranked second among all players in assists (5), while also ranking tied for fourth among defensemen in points (0-5=5).”
Vatanen appears to be just the kind of defenseman suited to the NHL in 2014. He’s quick, offensively productive and still young. Defensemen in general ruled free agency this year, offering a sign to the hockey world that the philosophy in changing in regard to how blue liners are valued.
The Ducks already have a nice top six set up, but it appears that Vatanen has worked his way into the starting lineup. For the next two years at least, he’ll have the inside track on improving his game and his place on one of the top teams in the Western Conference.