The most dangerous offensive weapon on the Ducks' blue line, Sami Vatanen set new career highs in points (38) and shots on goal (140), but his nine goals fell three short of the 12 he put up in 2014-15 in four less games. Vatanen is a smooth skater, a dynamic puck-mover and does well quarterbacking the league's most potent power-play unit (23.1 percent last year), but he's rather diminutive for a defenseman at 5-foot-10, 183-pounds. Not only is Vatanen more likely to get bumped off the puck by the opposition due to his stature, but injuries are a concern as well, as evidenced by the 26 games he's missed over the last two campaigns. Still, his talent is undeniable and he's just coming into his prime as a 25-year-old in his fourth full NHL season, so all signs point to Vatanen continuing to progress. Additionally, his average ice time was 21:19 in 2015-16, leaving him with plenty of room for additional scoring opportunities should new head coach Randy Carlyle decide to grant him more looks. The Finnish rearguard ended last season 29th in scoring among defensemen, but it's probably best to expect that rank to improve as the Ducks' core of players continues to improve.
Vatanen's four-year, $19 million contract extension signed Saturday includes a partial no-trade clause between 2018-20, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times reports. By reaching a deal with Vatanen this soon, the team avoided possible salary arbitration with the burgeoning blueliner, as he would've otherwise been a restricted free agent with extra leverage for contract negotiations on July 1. The 25-year-old has produced 96 points (27 goals, 69 assists) in 186 games over the last three seasons. His ability to set up scores while working on the top power-play unit makes him a valuable commodity in fantasy hockey.
The Ducks signed Vatanen to a four-year, $19.5 million contract extension Saturday, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. The Ducks realize it's important to keep Vatanen happy, as he's one of the best young defenders in the game. Last season, he registered career highs in assists (29) and points (38), including 19 power-play tallies. The Finn was also effective in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, notching four points in seven games and snagging the game-winner against Nashville in Game 5 of the conference quarterfinals.
Vatanen notched the game-winning goal and added a power-play assist in Saturday's 5-2 win over Nashville. He is riding a three-game, four-point streak (one goal, three assists). Vatanen is coming off a 38-point regular season, the best of his young career. And his confidence is growing as the quackers put their boots to the Preds. The 24-year-old is just scratching the surface on what is likely to be an outstanding career.
Vatanen (illness) is fine to play in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against the Predators on Friday. Vatanen missed the last three games of the regular season, but is a safe roll in playoff pools. This campaign, the young blueliner set the table for 29 scores, ranking third on the team while setting a new career high in that assist category.
Vatanen (illness) will not join the team on their upcoming road trip to Colorado, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. It seems unlikely the blueliner will miss any time in the playoffs, but the team will be without him for at least the regular season finale. Korbinian Holzer will likely draw into the lineup in his place again Saturday, but with just three points in 28 games, Holzer possesses little fantasy upside.
Rank Among Leaders
Last 7 Games
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