With the NHL officially releasing its teams’ protected list for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft, all eyes were on the Anaheim Ducks to see which of their promising young defenders would be left exposed. And the answer is: Sami Vatanen.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray elected to use his protected selections on defenders Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, while Kevin Bieksa was required to be protected due to a contract clause. This means that either the Ducks stand to lose Vatanen to the Vegas Golden Knights for nothing, or that an announcement agreement has been made between the two clubs.
Vatanen is an intriguing player and a big part of the Ducks blue line. In 71 games with the Ducks in 2016-17, the 26 year-old produced three goals and 24 points. While this was a dip from his previous two totals of 37 and 38 points, he’s still trending in the right direction and should be a capable defender for years to come. Whether he continues his career in Orange County or elsewhere remains to be seen.