Photo: The Athletic
The Carolina Hurricanes acquired defensemen Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils and Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers just prior to the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 PM ET on Monday afternoon. The Rangers got a first-round pick while the Devils received forward Jane Kuokkanen, defenseman Frederik Claesson, and a second-round pick.
Vatanen, currently on injured reserve, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and makes $4.875 million for the remainder of the season. Skeij has five seasons left on a contract that carries a cap hit of $5.25 million.
In 47 games with the Devils this season, the 28-year-old has posted five goals, 23 points, and a -12 rating. In 434 career NHL games with the Devils and Anaheim Ducks, Vatanen has recorded 45 goals, 194 points, and a -8 rating. In 44 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Vatanen has posted six goals, 17 points, and a +1 rating. He earned three goals, 11 points, and a +5 rating during the Ducks’ run to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final where they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks.
His best season came in 2015-16 when he set career-highs in assists (29) and points (38) and finished with a +8 rating in 71 games with the Ducks.
In 307 career NHL games, the 25-year-old Skeij has 25 goals, 112 points, and a -25 rating. His best season came in 2016-17 when he set career-highs in assists (34), points (39), and plus-minus (+11). Skjei has earned eight goals, 23 points, and a -6 rating in 60 games this season.
With the acquisitions of Vatanen and Skeij, the Hurricanes bolster a defense that already ranks 10th in the NHL with an average of 2.82 goals-against per game. However, Dougie Hamilton will not return until at least late March as he is currently recovering from a broken left fibula. He has been out since January 16.
The Hurricanes are currently tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.
The Devils, who are last in the Metropolitan Division with 58 points this season, continue to rebuild after dealing forward Taylor Hall, captain Andy Greene, and forward Blake Coleman in separate trades in the past three months.
The Rangers lose one of their top defenseman, an area where they are relatively thin on, and trade him within the division despite being only four points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.
Kuokkanen, 21, has recorded 12 goals, 42 points, and a +9 rating in 52 games with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers this season. In 11 career NHL games, he has a -5 rating and no points. The Hurricanes selected him in the second-round (43rd overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Claesson, signed to a two-year contract prior to the season, has recorded six goals, 26 points, and a -5 rating in 150 career NHL games with the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators but has not played this season.
By Harrison Brown