As the 2013-2014 NHL season approached, there was a palpable buzz surrounding Anaheim Ducks’ defenseman and top prospect Sami Vatanen. The 2009 fourth-round pick had made the AHL 1st All-Star Team and All Rookie Team in the 2012-2013 season and also made his NHL debut for the Ducks in the lockout-shortened season. In 70 games last year (62 at the AHL level, eight at the NHL level), Vatanen accumulated 47 points, including two goals at the NHL level.
Although the Ducks had depth at defense after trading for Ben Lovejoy at the 2013 trade deadline and signing free-agent Mark Fistric, the team’s depth suffered some setbacks. Toni Lydman retired after taking a vicious charge from Justin Abdelkader, and Sheldon Souray tore tendons in his wrist while throwing a medicine ball.
With the team needing players on the back end, both of Anaheim’s highly touted defense prospects (Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm) made the NHL team out of camp.
After making the team, what kind of impact would Vatanen have over the course of the season?