Back in January, Elliote Friedman said he could see the Anaheim Ducks trading one of Hampus Lindholm or Sami Vatanen. Essentially whichever one will be harder to re-sign:
Friedman: I could see one of Vatanen or Lindholm going, especially the one Bob Murray thinks is going to be harder to sign. #NHLDucks— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) January 29, 2016
It's not exactly confirmed that the Ducks are actively shopping these two young, talented defensemen, but since the Ducks are starting to become a healthier team, it's clear that they have a surplus in terms of blue-liners. Sami Vatanen fits the mold for what Detroit needs most - A young, fleet-footed defender with offensive upside.
We're not quite sure what Anaheim will be putting on Vatanen in terms of price tag, but we'll dive into the speculation of bringing the Finnish defenseman here to Detroit.
Why it makes sense to trade for Sami Vatanen
I think this is quite obvious. The Red Wings are in dire need of defensemen who can skate and think on a high-level. Vatanen isn't exactly a mammoth in terms of size, but where he lacks in size he makes up with his skating and ability to go on an offensive prowess. With Jeff Blashill's system, and the way our defensemen like to join the rush so often now, Vatanen is a clear-cut fit for this team.
Since making the leap to the NHL, Sami Vatanen has produced at a high level as a defenseman who often is seen logging big minutes on the power-play as a QB. The right-shooting 183-pound Finn 84 points in 173 games with Anaheim, not to mention that he is coming off a big 12-goal season last year. In fact, since 2013, Vatanen has lead all defensemen (those who have played at least 300 minutes) on Anaheim in points per 60 minutes with 1.01 in all situations. If you switch over to look at his power-play time, he leads all Anaheim defensemen in points per 60 minutes with 4.36. Crafty, offensive minds like Vatanen's are something the Red Wings desperately need to aid their scoring abilities, which seem to be very on and off as of late.
The next thing about Vatanen that makes him such a lucrative acquisition is his age. He's 24 years old, and is on the last year of his contract with the Ducks. He's a restricted free agent, so he's due for a pay raise from his current $1.26 million salary. With Kyle Quincey, and possibly other names coming off the roster next season, the Red Wings would have plenty of space to give Vatanen the raise he deserves over a a favorable term for both parties.
Why it doesn't make sense to trade for Sami Vatanen
There are three reasons here, and that's about it. Both of them are very easy to dismiss, so in all actuality it makes a whole lot of sense for the Red Wings to trade for this guy. Nevertheless, I'll break it down for you.
- Price. If the Ducks end up shopping Vatanen, then there will be multiple teams inquiring. This will drive up his stock, and the price will gradually increase. From what I gather, it would likely take a roster player and draft pick or prospect to make this trade happen. Depending on the roster player or prospect could really change things. You could go to Bob Murray and offer him Gustav Nyquist straight up, maybe throw in a spare part prospect like Adam Marsh, or Julius Vahatalo. The likelihood of Ken Holland pulling the trigger on a deal like that is very slim. Just doesn't strike me as a Ken Holland trade.
- The Red Wings could have a very similar player in Vili Saarijarvi. Small, agile, offensively gifted, shoots right... Basically an almost carbon copy of what Sami Vatanen is, but that's only been seen at the junior hockey level. Whether or not his game translates to professional style of play remains to be seen. I suppose it's never a problem to have too much skill, right?
- Logjam. The Red Wings have too many defensemen. A trade like this would likely require more than one move.
Likelihood of happening: 5/10
The Red Wings need help on defense, and the Ducks have great depth in that regard. I think that if Anaheim decides they want to bolster their scoring and actively starts shopping Vatanen, then the likelihood of this speculation will begin to increase. As of now, I'm sure Ken Holland has made a call and perhaps kicked a couple of tires. Since Vatanen is RFA status, this could very much end up being a player that is dealt at the NHL Draft. If he was made available in the next three weeks, I would hope that Holland is jumping out of his leather office chair to bring this kid to Detroit.