Sami Vatanen
Sami Vatanen
29-Year-Old DefensemanD
Carolina Hurricanes
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Vatanen topped the 30-point mark in three of the previous four seasons before an injury-plagued 2018-19 campaign saw him record just 17 points in 50 appearances. Getting back over the 30-point hump won't be easy, as the Finn will be locked out of the top power-play unit by P. K. Subban and Will Butcher. That doesn't mean scooping Vatanen up on the cheap can't still pay dividends in deeper formats, though, as he's a well-rounded player who's much better than what he showed last year. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a four-year, $19.5 million contract extension with the Ducks in June of 2016. Traded to the Devils in November of 2017. Traded to the Hurricanes in February of 2020.
Cleared to play
DCarolina Hurricanes
May 27, 2020
Vatanen (leg) will be ready to suit up for the Hurricanes once the league kicks off the 2020 postseason, Chip Alexander of The Raleigh News & Observer reports.
ANALYSIS
Vatanen was dealing with his leg injury when he was acquired by Carolina at the trade deadline and has yet to make an appearance for the club this season. While he won't get a regular-season contest in, the Finnish defenseman figures to be a key part of the club's play-in series versus the Rangers. With Vatanen good to go, Haydn Fleury and Trevor van Riemsdyk figure to find themselves relegated to the press box.
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NHL Stats
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2019
2018
2017
2016
2019 NHL Game Log
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2018 NHL Game Log
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2017 NHL Game Log
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2016 NHL Game Log
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2019–20 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    21:45
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    3:03
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    1:58
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2017–18
22:45
2:29
1:36
2017–18
21:06
2:48
2:14
2018–19
21:44
2:15
1:55
2019–20
21:45
3:03
1:58
Hurricanes Depth Chart
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
Vatanen was New Jersey's most important blueliner after being acquired in a trade with Anaheim, averaging a team-high 22:45 of ice time while chipping in 28 points -- 11 on the power play -- in 57 games with the Devils. While he lacks Will Butcher's offensive upside, Vatanen is still easily the best two-way blueliner on the team, meaning he should get heavy run in most situations. The Finnish defenseman's massive role gives him a high floor, and playing for a team that should be in playoff contention after last year's surprising postseason berth further minimizes his downside.
It was a down year from Vatanen in 2016-17, as the power-play quarterback dropped to just a single goal and nine assists at even strength while posting a career-low 0.5 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five. Vatanen salvaged some of his fantasy value with 14 points on the man advantage, however, despite once again missed time due to injury and suited up for just 71 games. Missed time is becoming commonplace for the 26-year-old defenseman, which is further concerning because of his small stature (5-foot-10, 183 pounds). He underwent offseason shoulder surgery and might not be recovered in time to start the season. Still, there is bounce-back potential for Vatanen. His power-play role, offensive acumen and excellent shot all position him to top last season's 24 points, barring additional injury woes, of course.
The most dangerous offensive weapon on the Ducks’ blue line, 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 emerged as a lethal offensive blueliner in 2014-15, finishing third among all NHL defensemen with seven power-play goals. It's an accomplishment made all the more impressive considering Vatanen missed 15 games with a leg injury, with the 24-year-old finishing the campaign with totals of 12 goals and 37 points, establishing himself as one of the top young players at his position. Never afraid to join the rush, Vatanen built off his superb regular season during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where he recorded three goals and 11 points in 16 games. While he’s only played 123 career NHL contests, Vatanen has tremendous offensive instincts and has made great progress in two NHL seasons. He’s the quarterback on a lethal power-play unit featuring Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Corey Perry, and led all Anaheim blueliners last season with 122 shots on goal. If he's able to avoid the health issues that plagued him a season ago, Vatanen could become a top-10 fantasy defenseman in both 2015-16 and the years to come.
Vatanen’s 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.
More Fantasy News
Could be ready if league resumes
DCarolina Hurricanes
Leg
March 26, 2020
Vatanen (leg) may be available for the Hurricanes should the NHL season resume. Coach Rod Brind'amour told reporters, "We were told he was going to be ready the first week of March when we made the deal, and that didn't happen. Now I would say that would be for sure, but you never know," Tom Gulitti of NHL.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Suffers setback
DCarolina Hurricanes
Leg
March 5, 2020
Vatanen (leg) was unable to finish the Canes' game-day skate and appears to have suffered a setback in his recovery. Coach Rob Brind'Amour told reporters, "He came off so that's not good. We were hoping to get him closer to playing. Now he looks like he's further away," Adam Kimelman of NHL.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Will travel with team
DCarolina Hurricanes
Leg
March 4, 2020
Vatanen (leg) will join the Hurricanes on their upcoming road trip but isn't guaranteed to play, Sara Civian of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
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Sent to division rival
DCarolina Hurricanes
Undisclosed
February 24, 2020
The Hurricanes acquired Vatanen (leg) from the Devils for a conditional fourth-round pick, Fredrik Claesson and prospect Janne Kuokkanen on Monday, Pierre LeBrun of TSN reports.
ANALYSIS
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Still sidelined
DNew Jersey Devils
Undisclosed
February 18, 2020
Vatanen (undisclosed) won't play Tuesday against St. Louis, Amanda Stein of the Devils' official site reports.
ANALYSIS
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