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.
Team USA vaulted into the semifinal round of the World Junior championships in Buffalo with a 2-1 win over Switzerland.
Whittier native and Detroit Red Wings prospect Mitch Callahan scored the game-winning goal midway through the second period, while forwards and Ducks prospects Emerson Etem (Long Beach) and Kyle Palmieri were held without a point.
The U.S. will play the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between Canada and Switzerland on Monday at 4:30 p.m. Canada lost, 6-5 in overtime to Sweden earlier Friday.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen, a fourth-round pick in 2009, had an assist in Sweden’s 6-0 win over Slovakia. Finland takes on the winner of Sunday’s Sweden-Russia contest earlier Monday. Igor Bobkov, a third-round Ducks draft pick in 2009, didn’t play in Russia’s 8-3 win over the Czech Republic.
Syracuse Crunch forward Kyle Palmieri scored two goals in the first 8:31 as the United States cruised to a 6-1 win over Slovakia on Tuesday. Palmieri tipped in a great pass from Charlie Coyle at the net front to open the scoring, then notched a power-play tally off a long rebound off the boards from a sharp angle to make it 2-0.
Palmieri added an assist and Long Beach native Emerson Etem completed the scoring in the second period with his first goal of the tournament, a wrist shot that slipped out of the glove of Slovakian netminder Dominik Riecicky.
Goaltender Igor Bobkov got the night off as Russia lost 2-0 to Sweden.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen was held pointless but finished plus-2 in Finland’s 4-0 win over Switzerland.
Forwards Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri were held scoreless, but the United States beat Finland 3-2 in its first game at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo. The game, which was televised on the NHL Network (check your local listings), saw Nick Bjugstad bail out the Americans in overtime with an unassisted goal at 3:08. Team
USA will play its second preliminary-round game of the IIHF World
Junior Championship on Tuesday against Slovakia. The game, to
be televised on NHL Network and streamed live on USAHockey.FASTHockey.com, will start at 5 p.m.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen, the captain of Team Finland, was held off the scoresheet.
Goalie Igor Bobkov, a third-round pick by the Ducks in 2009, allowed six goals on 42 shots in the Russians’ 6-3 loss to Canada.
Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri will team up for the first time since Ducks training camp, as both made the final roster for Team USA at the World Junior championships.
Etem and Palmieri both had strong showings in two pre-tournament exhibitions for the U.S. –an overtime loss to Rensselaer on Sunday and a shootout loss to the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Palmieri was a lock to make the team after he scored both regulation goals Tuesday night. Etem scored a goal Sunday and had several more scoring chances against the Czechs, though he couldn’t convert.
Two more Ducks prospects are slated to compete in the WJCs.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, will captain Team Finland. He’ll probably play a lot, too. The 19-year-old leads the SM-Liiga – the top Finnish league – in plus-minus rating. Vatanen also has 21 points in 32 games, averaging over 22 minutes a game for the league-leading team, JYP Jyvskyl.
Igor Bobkov, a third-round pick in 2009, could be the top goalie for Team Russia. The 6-foot-6 19-year-old has struggled in his first season in North America. He’s been relegated to backup duties with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, going 1-4 with a 4.63 goals-against average and .857 save percentage.
Check out tomorrow’s editions for a full feature on Etem, a native of Long Beach.
Sami Vatnanen, the Ducks’ fourth-round draft pick in 2009, has been enjoying a 5-1 run through the IIHF World Championships for Team Finland. The soon-to-be 19-year-old has been scoring some highlight-reel goals for the Suomi, and was profiled today on the IIHF Web site:
“Everybody understands that he’s not as strong as the more
experienced and older players, but he’s just 18, that will come. All
in all, he’s a fantastic player, and probably won’t stay in Finland very
long,” [former Team Finland and NHL defenseman Reijo Ruotsalainen] adds.
Fortunately for the Finnish fans, Vatanen
recently signed a contract extension that will keep him in Jyvskyl for
another two years.
“I’m not listening to any other offers, I
signed with JYP, and that’s where I’ll play,” says the Anaheim Ducks’
fourth-round pick, 106th over all, in 2009.
“I don’t plan my
career too much, I just try to enjoy playing, and take it one season at a
time. I had a big role in Jyvskyl last year, so why not next year, as
well. All I want to do now is to keep on developing as a player,” he
We find the Canadian media’s obsession over the World Junior Championships to be oddly amusing. This was what the TSN home page looked like as of 11 p.m. Monday; note that Brandon McMillan’s hat trick for Team Canada got top billing over the NFL, the NHL, Suns-Lakers and certainly any American college football:
A pair of recent Ducks first-round draft picks, defenseman Jake Gardiner and forward Kyle Palmieri, were chosen for the 22-man Team USA World Junior Championships roster Wednesday.
Gardiner (2008) and Palmieri (2009) joinfellow Ducks prospects Brandon McMillan (Canada), Sami Vatanen (Finland), Igor Bobkov (Russia), Radoslav Illo (Slovakia) and Luca Sbisa (Switzerland), who were also named to their respective national teams for the WJCs, which begin Saturday in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Gardiner, 19, is in his second season at the University of Wisconsin. Palmieri, 18, is a freshman at Notre Dame.
Thousand Oaks native Max Nicastro, a 19-year-old defenseman who was drated by Detroit in 2008, did not make the final Team USA roster.