Devils and Ducks Make Deal

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.

Devils Knock Off Rangers in Preseason Matchup

The Devils came into their home preseason meeting with the New York Rangers after a 4-1 victory up in Montreal on Thursday. While the preseason has little meeting in the grand scheme of things, it is always nice to beat the Rangers and get a little taste of the Hudson River rivalry in September. And that is exactly what the Devils did tonight, coming away with a narrow 2-1 win over New York.

This game was televised on MSG+2 with the Devils feed, featuring Ken Daneyko, Steve Cangialosi, Dave Maloney (giving Rangers analysis) and, making his MSG television debut, Bryce Salvador. Salvador worked between the benches and up in the studio with Deb Placey during the intermissions. He did a mostly good job, but did seem to be a little bit nervous. That is obviously to be expected and will pass as he gets more and more comfortable in front of the camera.

Dave Maloney made a point that Kevin Shattenkirk (who was in the lineup for New York tonight) was nearly a Devil, as General Manager Ray Shero did make a great pitch to him in trying to land him. But in the end, Shattenkirk’s loyalty to the Rangers (as a fan growing up) won out and he obviously went there.

One other player in the Rangers lineup tonight was Glen Rock, New Jersey native Bandon Crawley, a defenseman who would make his mark on the game in front of his friends and family who were in attendance.

Goaltending for the night saw Cory Schneider go for the Devils. He played all sixty minutes and made 17 saves on 18 shots faced. Mackenzie Blackwood was backing him up. Cory will get one more full game this preseason as mentioned by the announcers.

For the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist started and made 23 saves on 24 shots in forty minutes of ice time. Brandon Halverson played the final period, making eight saves on nine shots against.

The first period saw no goals, but did see a nice save from Schneider as well as some physicality.

It began when Miles Wood took a high hit to the head from Ranger Andrew Desjardins and John Moore came to his defense. Moore would go off at 8:06 for roughing while Desjardins would get a match penalty, ending his night early. The second period would also see some roughing calls agaisnt the Rangers’ Brendan Smith (who would draw an extra elbowing minor on that play) and the Devils’ Jimmy Hayes, who came to John Quenneville’s defense after Smith elbowed him.

With that much physical play going on, it is no wonder that the first two goals of the game came on the power play.

After the Desjardin match penalty, the Devils had a man advantage and Joseph Blandisi would convert. At the 8:41 mark of the second, Moore and Quenneville played catch with the puck. Quenneville passed across to Adam Henrique along the far half wall. He fired a shot and Blandisi grabbed the rebound, putting it under Lundqvist to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.

The Rangers would also notch the game tying goal on the power play. Drew Stafford would go off for tripping at 1:05 of the third period and none other than New Jersey native Brandon Crawley potted one from Lias Andersson and Nick Holden to tie the game up at one. That goal came at 2:55.

Stafford would redeem himself with the game winner at 14:24 of the third period. That one came when Pavel Zacha skated the puck out of the Devils zone and gave it to Jesper Bratt (who much like Blandisi, has been having a great camp). Bratt found the trailing Stafford, who absolutely sniped one over the stick of Halverson, the Rangers goalie.

That one would stand up and the Devils came away with the 2-1 win on home ice.

It was another good night for New Jersey, as they outshot the Rangers, 18 to 33, won more faceoffs (55-percent to 45-percent) and had more blocks, 11-5. THey were, however, outhit (26 to 19) in what was, again, a very physical game and had more giveways (7-5). The Rangers went 1-for-6 on the power play while the Devils were 1-for-7.

Again, it was a good win for the Devils and should build a young team’s confidence as this good preseason record advances. Plus, it is always nice to beat the Rangers and was a treat for the fans.

So, with their home preseason games done, the Devils next play Monday in a split-squad pair. One half of the team will be at Barclays Center in Brooklyn playing the Islanders (a game that will be televised on MSG+) the other half will be in Summerside, Prince Edward Island (that game will be shown on the NHL Network here in the States pending any blackout restrictions) taking on the Ottawa Senators in the Canadian Kraft Hockeyville game. So, while half of the Devils will be on Long Island, the other half will be on Prince Edward Island and we will have more Devils hockey than we will know what to do with on Monday!

We should have recaps of both games here as the Devils continue their preseason slate.