The Anaheim Ducks have traded defenseman Sami Vatanen and a conditional draft pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for centers Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi as well as a third-round pick in 2018, the Ducks announced Thursday morning.
BREAKING: #NHLDucks acquire centers Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 third-round draft pick from the @NJDevils for defenseman Sami Vatanen and a conditional draft pick. pic.twitter.com/D5y51REPsl
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) November 30, 2017
In a surprise to the entire hockey world Thursday morning, the Ducks traded a highly-touted blue-liner in Vatanen to acquire one of the Devils better players in a deal that bolstered their center depth with captain Ryan Getzlaf still sidelined after taking a puck to the face in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes and Ryan Kesler still sidelined indefinitely.
Prior to this trade taking place, the Ducks were using Derek Grant as their top line center while Chris Wagner was the pivot on the team’s second-line. The addition of Henrique to the team immediately bolsters that depth for the immediate future. It also gives them some versatility as Henrique has played wing on the Devils’ second line throughout much of the 2017-18 season.
Vatanen Ready to Shine on the Top Pairing
Vatanen’s name had been discussed in trade rumors for a while given the strong depth on defense that the Ducks possess. A fourth-round pick in 2009, the 5-foot-10, 187-pound blueliner has scored only one goal and four points in 15 games this season but has maintained his impact as a strong puck-moving defender. Playing much of the season on the Ducks’ second-pairing alongside Cam Fowler, Vatanen will likely immediately take a role on the Devils’ top pairing moving forward.
In 280 career games, Vatanen has scored 33 goals and 126 points with his best season coming in 2014-15 when he scored 12 goals and 37 points in just 67 games. He went on to score three goals and 11 points in 16 playoff games that year and made a name for himself around the league as a very good player. Taken in the fourth-round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, it just goes to show that anybody (drafted or otherwise) can make an impact if they work hard enough. Not only has Vatanen made it to the NHL despite his mid-round status, but he’s now been the centerpiece of a big trade at the NHL level.
Ducks Get a Haul
In Henrique, the Ducks are getting a very talented and often underrated center who scored 50 goals between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. His four goals and 14 points in 24 games this season might not immediately jump off the page, but considering he’s been playing both in and away from his position at various points of the year, he’s adjusted well and given the Devils everything they’ve needed from him.
In 455 career games, Henrique has scored 122 goals and 257 points. His best statistical season came in 2015-16 when he scored 30 goals and 50 points while skating in 80 games. Unfortunately for the 27-year-old, he’s only played in the postseason one time with that playoff experience resulting in a trip to the Stanley Cup Final against the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12. Henrique scored five goals and 13 points that postseason in what ultimately resulted in a losing effort. With the Devils now sitting only one point out of first place in the Metropolitan Division and nearing full health, Henrique will join the Ducks, who sit near the bottom of the Pacific Division with only 26 points through 25 games.
The Ducks also received a third-round pick and Blandisi in the deal. While he’s struggled to earn a spot as an NHL regular, he’s proven to be a very talented AHL player who could potentially play in a bottom-six role with the Ducks when needed. Scoring a total of eight goals and 26 points over 68 games split between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, Blandisi’s offensive totals likely won’t ever reach the level of a top-six forward. Still, his skill setb could translate well to a bottom-six role. As his AHL point totals will attest to, Blandisi is capable of logging points – he’ll just need to find a way to do so with a little more consistency if he wants to earn a spot on a depleted Ducks roster.