New Jersey Devils: Should They Trade Or Keep Sami Vatanen?

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

In a new series, Pucks and Pitchforks will go through each and every player tied to trade rumors, seeing if they should stay or go as the playoffs become more and more unlikely. Today, we will look into a defenseman having a really good season in Sami Vatanen.

The New Jersey Devils season did not go nearly as planned. We thought that with the amount of talent on the Devils’ roster, they’d be competing for a playoff spot the entire season. They lost the first six games of the season, and never really got back in the race ever since.

There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news is obviously another lost season where we have a fanbase wondering whether we should root for losing or enjoy a win that means nothing. However, the good news is unlike other years where the Devils are sellers, they actually have some really good assets this year.

One of the assets they already sold was their biggest piece. Taylor Hall was traded to the Arizona Coyotes for some picks and prospects. Now, it’s time to figure out which pieces should stick around and which ones should be placed on the trade block.

The player that’s probably going to give the Devils the most obvious value is Sami Vatanen. Teams usually covet right-handed defensemen come trade deadline time. Vatanen might be one of the best pieces on the market once everything plays itself out.

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The Devils obviously have a decision to make with Vatanen. He’s on the final year of his contract, and he’s looking to sign that last big contract of his career. He probably won’t get what we once thought after the defenseman free agency market flamed out last season. However, he’s going to get a decent extension either way. Vatanen is having one of his better seasons, despite the struggles of the Devils.

The Devils have to speak with him now and see what his intentions are. Is he willing to re-sign right now? If not, then that makes the decision easy for the Devils.

Having Vatanen on the team for the next three to five years would be really good if the Devils use him as a second or third best defenseman. It would be ideal if the Devils could find someone to pair with P.K. Subban, then they can have Vatanen anchor the second line. If they decide to pay him around $5 million per season, and with the addition next year of Ty Smith, it will really round out this defense.

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However, if he’s looking to hit the market, the Devils need to trade him. No player should hit the market for the Devils unless nobody even wants them. That will not be the case for Vatanen. There will be a dozen teams looking to trade for Vatanen, it just depends on what they are willing to give up. It is likely going to end with him on another team at the end of the season. It will be sad, because he really became a good player in New Jersey, but we see him wanting to hit the market.