24-Year-Old Defenseman – Anaheim Ducks
Sami Vatanen Contract Information:
Signed a two-year, $2.525 million contract extension with Anaheim in July of 2014.
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).
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Sami Vatanen: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Vatanenís second NHL season saw him substantially increase both his playing time and his productivity. But he still saw a lot of healthy scratches, particularly late in the season. Stephane Robidas has departed to Toronto, so those healthy scratches for Vatanen should decline. And he should get a shot at the point on the first power-play unit. This could be the start of something beautiful for his fantasy owners -- 35 points are within reach.
Vatanen is a small, offensive dynamo who scored two goals in the eight games he played during the 2012-2013 regular season. He'd be considered a stud in the making if his parents had given him the gift of three more inches in height, but alas that didn't happen. Still, the Ducks have a serviceable defense corps that helps insulate players' shortcomings (see Souray, Sheldon), so Vatanen could be eased into NHL time nice and easy on the left coast. He has the tool belt to be an elite power-play QB, but like we said, those tools just hang a little closer to the ground than for most. Watch his development and don't be afraid to stash him on keeper rosters. Single-year leagues need to use more caution than that, so a waiver pick up might be in order.
Vatanen has elite offensive abilities, and if he were over six feet, he'd be on the short list of the best defense prospects in the world. Everyone would know his name and they'd be tossing around words like game-breaker and stud. But he's 5-9 and that seriously changes the adjectives used to describe him. Watch from afar -- if he can show that he can handle his own-zone duties on smaller ice, we might have a sleeper.