Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Today, the Devils announced that they had reunited with an old friend in Sami Vatanen, signing him to a one-year contract.
Vatanen had spent 2017-20 with the Devils, being dealt from Anaheim for Adam Henrique in 2017 and traded to Carolina for Janne Kuokkanen during the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline.
This bolsters the Devils' blue-line depth significantly as they now have Vatanen back to potentially play on the top pairing as well as the power-play.
Vatanen played 154 regular-season games with the Devils from 2017-20, racking up 12 goals, 54 assists, and 68 points. In the playoffs in 2017-18, Vatanen registered one goal in four games as the Devils were knocked out in five by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Last season, Vatanen played in 47 regular-season games, all with New Jersey. He scored five goals and 18 assists and was utilized pretty heavily on special teams, recording a power-play goal and nine power-play assists.
Vatanen did not play any regular-season games with Carolina last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic cutting the remainder of the season short following the trade deadline. He got into seven playoff games with Carolina last year, recording three assists. The Devils netted promising young forward Janne Kuokkanen and defenseman Fredrik Claesson plus a conditional fourth-rounder in the trade (the condition was that Vatanen needed to play in two playoff games for New Jersey to receive the pick), which was met during their playoff run. That pick became goaltending prospect Nico Daws.
In his career, Vatanen has skated in 434 games, scoring 45 goals and 149 assists for 194 points. In 40 career playoff games, he has five goals and 17 assists.
I am a huge fan of this deal, especially with how the Devils' defense has been recently, Vatanen was a bright spot. This also continues to prove that the Devils won both Vatanen trades, as he has played great since he joined the Devils.
While Lindy Ruff told Amanda Stein that he is not sure when Vatanen will join the team due to him being in Finland and needing to quarantine upon his return, Ruff is still excited for Sami to join the team, and it will be nice to see #45 wearing the correct black and red of the Devils this upcoming season.