The Ducks signed defenseman Sami Vatanen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, to a three-year entry level contract worth $2.7 million in the NHL.
Vatanen, who turns 20 in June, was named the Finnish Elite League’s Defenseman of the Year in 2010-11 and was selected to the league’s postseason All-Star team after leading all defensemen in scoring and ranking first overall in plus/minus.
The Jyvaskyla native had 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) with a plus-30 rating and 30 penalty minutes in 52 games for JYP Jyvaskyla last season. In three playoff games, Vatanen posted a goal and an assist. He also captained Finland to a bronze-medal win over Canada at the 2009 IIHF Under-18 World Championships in Fargo, ND. In six games during the World tournament, he scored 0-5=5 points with a +6 rating.
The key question now for Vatanen is how well his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame will adapt to the smaller North American rinks and the more physical NHL (or more likely, AHL) style of play.
Vatanen was the fifth player selected by the Ducks in a 2009 draft class after Peter Holland (15th overall), Kyle Palmieri (26th), Mat Clark (37th) and Igor Bobkov (76th) – all of whom have signed entry-level deals. Fifth-round pick Radoslav Illo just completed his first season at Bemidji State University and sixth-round pick Scott Valentine recently completed his 2010-11 season with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.