This is part 15 of my Prospect File series where I update you guys’ on Hockey’s Future’s Top 20 Anaheim Ducks prospects. This will be a daily series that will hopefully end before the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. I will also be doing a series on possible players the Ducks will take with their first round pick. Part 14 was on forward Nic Kerdiles. So, next up in part 15 is #6 on HF’s Top 20, defenseman Sami Vatanen.
Sami Vatanen was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. So, is it too early to call him one of the steals of the draft? I think it’s pretty safe to say that’s he a candidate. The diminutive defenseman has excellent offensive abilities. He’s everything that Justin Schultz was going to be. Vatanen has very good speed and is an excellent skater. He is creative with the puck and can definitely lead a successful breakout. He doesn’t have the hardest shot but it’s very accurate. He needs work in his own end, just like Schultz. Despite putting up 45 points in 62 games with the Norfolk Admirals this year, he was an even plus/minus. He scored 2 goals in 8 games last year with the Ducks and I’m expecting him to dress for many more next year.
Weight: 176 lbs.
“The first prospect selected outside of the first round to make the list for the Ducks is Finnish defenseman Sami Vatanen. Vatanen is a bit of a mixed package overall, his limited size at 5’10 has made him vulnerable to the physical game of the AHL, but his tremendous playmaking ability and vision makes him a threat to any opposing team. He had a tremendous 2012-13 season and was an AHL First All-Star team member and the Norfolk Admiral’s top defensive scorer. However, despite his fantastic 45 points in 62 games he was an even plus-minus. That is going to be the story with Vatanen, at least for now. He will bring you tremendous breakouts and puck moving but his defensive game is always going to be a knock. With Vatanen though, if he can put up numbers like this in the NHL, he will certainly be above the hockey “Mendoza Line” so to speak.”
“A small and talented defenseman. An excellent skater who understands the game well and is useful on powerplay. Needs to improve physically. Good stickhandling. (Matias Strozyk)”
“Owns excellent offensive ability, solid puck-moving skills and plenty of hockey sense. Is capable of running a power play and also owns a very accurate point shot. Is somewhat undersized for the North American pro game, so he must continue to add bulk and get stronger physically in order to maximize his NHL potential.”
Next up in the series will be defenseman Hampus Lindholm.