The Anaheim Ducks re-signed defenseman Sami Vatanen to a four-year, $19.5 million contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatanen, 25, will earn $5 million per season in 2016-17 and 2017-18, followed by $4.5 million annually for 2018-19 and 2019-20. His average salary-cap hit is $4.875 million. It was over $1.262 million in 2015-16..
It’s a reasonable raise for Vatanen, who was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He was the leading scorer among Ducks defensemen the past two seasons. Last season, he led them in takeaways (34). He was also third in average ice time (21:18) and in blocked shots (105).
The assumption was the Ducks, a budget-conscious team, couldn’t afford to re-sign Vatanen, fellow defenseman Hampus Lindholm and goalie Frederik Andersen. With promising young blueliners such as Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour waiting in the wings, Vatanen’s signing could fuel speculation over Lindholm’s future in Anaheim. However, he’s coming off an entry-level deal without arbitration rights. The Ducks are likely to retain him as well, perhaps to an affordable bridge deal.
The most likely trade candidate could be Andersen, who’s only a year away from unrestricted free agent status