NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New Jersey Devils are going for it.
Clearly on a much quicker path to respectability than anyone anticipated, the Devils now have the look of a team that can end a long playoff drought after acquiring veteran defenseman Sami Vatanen from the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
New Jersey sent veteran center Adam Henrique, forward Joe Blandisi and a third-round pick in the 2018 draft to Anaheim for Vatanen and a conditional third-round draft pick.
“In acquiring Sami, we bring on a right shot, top-four defenseman who can play in all situations,” Devils general manager Ray Shero said.
Selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the 2009 draft, Vatanen has 126 points, including 33 goals, in 280 career games. Though he got off to a slow start this season due to offseason shoulder surgery, when at his best Vatanen is a solid puck-mover who can easily handle 20-plus minutes of ice time per night.
He is currently in the second year of a four-year contract that has an average annual value of $4.875 million, according to CapFriendly.com.
The Devils have not made the playoffs since getting to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, but are currently tied for second in the tough Metropolitan Division, sporting a solid 14-6-4 record. Vatanen, who has 40 games of playoffs experience, will join a defense corps that includes captain Andy Greene, and veterans Steven Santini, John Moore, and Damon Severson, plus standout rookie Will Butcher.
Henrique was a fan favorite in New Jersey throughout his seven-plus year career, and had 14 points in 24 games this season. The 27-year-old, who scored huge goals during the Devils’ run in the 2011-12 postseason, should see significant ice time in Anaheim. The Ducks are down several centers due to injury.
“Adam has been a key member of our organization for nearly 10 years since he was drafted. His contributions both on and off the ice will always be appreciated by our organization and fans,” Shero said.