The Anaheim Ducks have agreed to terms on a two-year, $2.525 million contract with talented puck-moving defenseman and Suomi Olympian Sami Vatanen, the club announced Tuesday.
The contract will carry an averaged annual value of $1.2625 million and will pay Vatanen a $1.25 million dollar salary in the first year of the contract and $1.275 million in the second year of the deal, according to a report from Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times.
Vatanen, 23, appeared in 48 games with the Ducks this past season, playing third-pairing minutes at even-strength and logging major minutes on the power-play. The diminutive offensive defender led all Ducks defenders in shot attempt differential and leveraged his cannon of a shot to score six goals while managing 21 points.
A tremendous puck possession player, Vatanen played legitimate first pairing minutes for Finland at the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. Of the 15 players Vatanen played over 100 minutes with at even-strength last season, all 15 did better by shot attempt differential with Vatanen on the ice, then they did without him.
It's perhaps also notable that, after being a healthy scratch throughout Anaheim's first round Stanley Cup playoff series, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau inserted the skilled defender into the lineup for Game 3 of the team's ill-fated second round series against the Los Angeles Kings. Down 2-0 in the series at the time, Vatanen logged major minutes for the Ducks as they clawed back in the series to force a seventh game.
Was Vatanen's postseason performance a sign of things to come? Based on his stellar underlying numbers and superb Olympic performance, it would seem an excellent bet.
Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Anne-Marie Sorvin