The Devils have acquired some help on the blue line in the form of Sami Vatanen from the Anaheim Ducks. They today announced that they have sent Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and their 2018 third round pick west to the Ducks in exchange for the defenseman and a conditional third round pick.
The conditions of the pick are, according to the press release put out on the Devils’ website:
⦁ “If Anaheim signs Henrique to a new Standard Player Contract for 2019-20 prior to their own third-round pick of the 2019 Draft, Anaheim will transfer their own third-round pick in the 2019 Draft to New Jersey.”
⦁ “If Anaheim signs Henrique to a new Standard Player Contract for 2019-20 after their own third-round pick of the 2019 Draft, Anaheim will transfer their own third-round pick in the 2020 Draft to New Jersey.”
⦁ “If Henrique does not re-sign with Anaheim, no pick will be exchanged.”
The Devils needed help on the back end and Ray Shero had this to say about the deal: “In acquiring Sami, we bring on a right shot, top-four defenseman who can play in all situations. This move also gives us contract certainty on the back end for the next two-plus years.” Vatanen is “in the second year of a four year, $19.5 million dollar contract ($4,875,000 AAV)” according to the press release.
Shero also added: “When acquiring a defenseman like Vatanen, you have to give back quality assets or players in return. That is the case in this situation with Adam and Joe. Adam has been a key member of our organization for nearly ten years since he was drafted. His contributions both on and off the ice will always be appreciated by our organization and fans. For Joe, this is a great opportunity with a quality organization like Anaheim and I am happy for him.” Shero was, of course referring primarily to Henrique’s overtime goal in game six against the Rangers in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final when he mentioned “on ice contributions.” That one goal will cement ‘Rico’s’ legacy in Devils lore forever.
Shero complimented the Devils’ depth in the forward ranks, saying “This also says a great deal about our other forwards in Binghamton and those who have taken the next step in New Jersey. I am excited (as) they continue to push and provide us quality depth and competition from within.”
So what are the Devils getting in return? Vatanen is 26 years-old and a native of Jyvaskyla, Finland. He was the Ducks’ fifth selection (taken in the fourth round) pick in the 2009 Draft – taken 106th overall. The press release notes that he was taken by Anaheim in the same draft class that they took current-Devil Kyle Palmieri. He has represented Finland in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, 2014 Winter Olympics, 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championship and 2010 World Championship. He currently has one goal and three assists in 15 games (missing the first nine games of the 2017-18 season recovering from shoulder surgery he had in the off season).
He “finished second in scoring among Ducks defensemen last season, and led all Ducks defensemen the two years prior to that.” The press release also says that he “finished third on the Ducks in time-on-ice each of the past four seasons.” In four-plus seasons with the Ducks, he has played in 280 NHL regular season games. In that time, heas has 33 goals and 93 assists (126 points), 116 penalty minutes and a plus-22 rating. He has also played in 40 playoff games with five goals and 17 assists (22 points) and 18 penalty minutes. He is a smaller d-man at 5-feet, 10-inches tall and 126-pounds. All of the above information comes from the press release.
The defenseman, who played his pre-North American career with JyP Jyvaskyla of the Finnish league, will report to the Devils in Colorado as they get set to take on the Avalanche in Denver tomorrow. He will wear number 45.
While it is always sad to see someone like Henrique, who had become such an entrenched part of the Devils and Blandisi, who seems to have such a great upside, go, the Devils needed to do what they could to get some help on the back end. With Mirco Mueller going down with injury, an already weak spot for New Jersey was made even weaker. Vatanen will fill gaps as, it was noted by Shero, he can play in any situation, something the Devils were kind of limited with the current defense corps as they stood.
Good luck to Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi in Anaheim and welcome to New Jersey Sami Vatanen.