Irresponsible Rumormongering

Is Sami Vatanen on the NY Rangers radar?

In the dog days of Fall, it’s always nice when a little nugget falls in your lap. Mike Johnson of the NHL Network thinks unsigned UFA defenseman Sami Vatanen may be a fit for the NY Rangers.

Vatanen is a RD, but Johnson suggests he could play on his off-side to give the Rangers more depth on the left side. It’s definitely a stretch, but let’s break this down a bit.

Not The Old Sami Vatanen

There once was a time where I would have traded almost anyone to have Vatanen on the Rangers. In 2014, before the Rangers extended Dan Girardi, there were rumors of a Girardi/Vatanen swap if an extension couldn’t be worked out. That was almost seven years ago.

Vatanen hasn’t seen 30 points since 2015-2016 and hasn’t seen 70 games since 2017-2018. Those are concerns, but the main concerns is that Vatanen simply isn’t that good anymore.

Based on last year’s numbers, Vatanen is basically a powerplay specialist at this point in his career. He’s treading water in his own zone, but he doesn’t drive anything and is a net negative at even strength. He hasn’t been a net-positive at even strength in years, unfortunately.

Vatanen was a team drain offensively at even strength with the Devils (only seven games with Carolina). However he was a net positive on defense, but it didn’t outweigh the offensive issues. The Rangers, in theory, could do worse than Vatanen as a bottom of the roster defenseman. I mean, they already have done worse with Jack Johnson.

Vatanen’s greatest strength is on the powerplay, where the Rangers are already set. Vatanen isn’t going to usurp control of the powerplay from Tony DeAngelo or Adam Fox. Vatanen did get time ont he penalty kill, but he wasn’t overly effective.

Can It Still Work?

In theory, the Rangers can still make this work. There are certainly worse 3RD options –assuming DeAngelo is moved to the left– than him. The first thing the Rangers would need to do is make roster space by trading Brendan Smith. Smith is the only player that could/would be traded at this point.

Vatanen would probably be an upgrade on Smith, and if they are looking at RD, then it gives the Rangers their handedness preference.

After that, there is still a fit. You’d have Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Lindren, and Jack Johnson (or a kid) on the left side. That would leave Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, and Vatanen on the right side. Not exactly a murderer’s row of defensemen, Sami Vatanen adds depth, but not much for the Rangers.

The only way Sami Vatanen can fit for the Rangers is if they are able to create space for him. He’d be an upgrade over Smith, but leveling expectations, if this happens, would be important.

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  • I mean, not for nothing, there were a million other options, other than Jack Johnson.

    There will be a million adequate vet D men available, like Vatanen, that could be signed on the cheap. Oh, and I think that the Rangers probably have 3 options in their own system that could play LH D.

    It’s not like the Johnson signing kills the season or anything like that. But the questions still remains: Why? Because the Rangers are STILL looking for LH D help outside the org.

    So what is it that they accomplished with the Johnson signing? There are guys similar to Claesson, who would come in at under $1M per, to fill the 3rd pair role.

    I still don’t get it.

  • Not for nothing but we are loaded on the right side, and are being forced to move ADA to the left, with Niles coming up soon enough, why even consider this move??????

    He is on the wrong side of 30 years of age, hasn’t been very good offensively, I just don’t understand why we are even talking about this guy. Whenever there is a player out there that is looking for work, the first thing people say is either the Rangers are interested in him, and or he would fit in just nicely. BS!!!!!!!!!

    • I’m ok with stop gaps until the kids are ready.

      It’s just that Johnson was the wrong stop gap.

      • Sign Slater Koekoek – he is actually good and played for $875K last year. He is still only 25.

        • Right, I’m sure that there a plethora of cheap D men out there that are a 100 times more capable than Johnson.

          I would move ADA to the left of Trouba, keep Lindgren-Fox in tact, and fill in the bottom pair. Not with Jack Johnson.

          • I missed most of the Rangers’ games with the Penguins the last couple of seasons, so I have not seen JJ play since he was with the Blue Jackets. But even back then he was big and slow–now he is 33. What I have read in more than a couple of places about his tenure in Pittsburgh does not bode well. Heck, it would seem that even Hajek would be a better option than JJ?

          • Look at the stats, similar to Howden for his position, ugly. One of the worst in the league for regular playing D men.

  • You need to move Smith and not retain any salary. Then you may want to use that savings on a rookie forward, not an aging defensman. We need to let the young defensemen get NHL game experience. I only can see a Vatanen pickup if someone gets hurt.

  • While he might have more skills than Smith, I don’t see him as a major improvement. Smith appears to be a lot more durable and a lot more versatile.

    On another note, JJ scares me. I hope we don’t see him on the ice much.

    • Oh, they’ll play him Peter, because Martin said so.

      I wonder what tape they were looking at.

  • JJ signing has politics written all over it…….JJ is such a nice guy, and needs a job… JM states to sign him so JD informs JG to sign him……….Rangers always have to have a player on the team that can’t do anything right…..Is it just me??

    • If “nice” were the criteria then you would be starting center.

      But, no offense, we’ll pass on that bro.

  • No chance this happens, nor should it. Our Rd is loaded currently and Nils and Schneider are knocking on the doors. Injury prone and a shell of his former self. Hard hard pass!

  • If it’s a 1 year deal @ $1M, sure go ahead and sign another “depth” D’man — as long as the coaching staff plays people based on merit I have no issue with such a signing.

  • He is NOT an upgrade over Smith, and every reason you listed above is exactly why the Rangers are a BAD fit.

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