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30 in 15: Injuries Could Help Vatanen Earn a Roster Spot

Sunday, 09.29.2013 / 11:14 AM PT / News
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30 in 15: Injuries Could Help Vatanen Earn a Roster Spot
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By NHL.com

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

One man's injury is another man's opportunity.

For Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen, a rash of injuries to the team's defensemen has given him an opportunity to earn a full-time NHL roster spot.

Sheldon Souray is out until December or even January following surgery for a torn ligament in his wrist. Francois Beauchemin, while skating, is only four months removed from reconstructive knee surgery and is questionable to start the season, and Luca Sbisa is hoping to recover from a sprained ankle in time for the season opener Oct. 2 at the Colorado Avalanche.

That leaves multiple openings, and Vatanen could slide into one of them. The 2009 fourth-round pick (No. 106) made a nice initial impression last season, playing three games in February, then returning for five more at the end of the regular season, during which time he scored two goals. He also had nine goals and 45 points in 62 games with the Ducks' American Hockey League team, the Norfolk Admirals, in his first season of North American hockey.

"He played really good for us at the end of last year, and we like him a lot," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Producing offense never has been a problem for the 22-year-old, who had 14 goals and 42 points in 2011-12 playing with JYP in SM-liiga, Finland's top professional league. The next step is for Vatanen to become more reliable in the defensive end.

He was a plus-3 in limited NHL ice time last season, and is a plus-1 (with one goal) in four preseason games.

"He just has to gain experience and know when to do it [jump into the attack] and know when to not do it," Boudreau told the Orange County Register. "I don't think he's risky as far as play in his own zone. He's smart. He makes the good play.

"Where he's risky is stepping up in the neutral zone or stepping up at the blue line. That's where he gets to be risky. So we would like to take that out of the equation."

The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has dealt with his own bumps and bruises during training camp, but remains hopeful that he'll be in Colorado when the season starts.

"My plan is to play [in the NHL]," Vatanen told the Orange County Register. "Not in Norfolk or anything like that. There's so many good guys here, so you've got to push it to the limits and do what you got to do.

"I do my best and we will see what happens. No pressure or anything. Just enjoy the time that you’re here."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 25 45 15 70
C. Perry 67 33 22 13 55
R. Kesler 81 20 27 -5 47
J. Silfverberg 81 13 26 15 39
S. Vatanen 67 12 25 5 37
P. Maroon 71 9 25 -5 34
C. Fowler 80 7 27 4 34
H. Lindholm 78 7 27 25 34
M. Beleskey 65 22 10 13 32
R. Rakell 71 9 22 6 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 35 12 5 .914 2.38
J. Gibson 13 8 0 .914 2.60

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