Fantasy Impact: The Devils Acquire Vatanen from the Ducks for Henrique

by steve laidlaw on November 30, 2017

Fantasy Impact: The Devils have acquired Sami Vatanen from the Ducks for Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a 2018 third-round pick.

 

The Devils get: A legitimate top-four defenseman with some history of point production. Vatanen burst onto the scene with 21 points in 48 games as a rookie in 2013-14. He quickly established himself as the top defenseman option in Anaheim, flirting with 40 points a couple of times, but never quite hitting that mark.

Vatanen’s numbers have dropped off the past couple of seasons, with just 28 points in his last 86 games. His possession numbers have also fallen off, but this is likely the result of switching from Bruce Boudreau to Randy Carlyle. Vatanen has also had a ton of competition for minutes getting beaten out by Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour recently.

Vatanen is also injury prone having never suited up for more than 71 games in a season.

 

The Ducks get: A speedy top-six forward in Henrique, who is capable of playing in all three phases, and one flexible enough to play on the wing and at center. They desperately need this flexibility with their best three center options in Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Rickard Rakell all on the shelf, along with injuries to Ondrej Kase and Patrick Eaves.

 

Fantasy Players Impacted: We no longer have to play the guessing game as to who will be the Ducks’ top defenseman options. They have rolled with a two-defenseman look on the power play with Montour and Vatanen for the past few games, but Fowler has loomed as a Carlyle favourite. There is now room for both Fowler and Montour to thrive.

This is big news for Montour’s breakout potential. While he is currently banged up with an elbow injury, it shouldn’t cost him much time. Montour’s going to be fantasy relevant everywhere.

At some point this makes room for young defenders Jacob Larsson, but that’s a year or two away. The Ducks have the depth to survive the loss of Vatanen now that their D corps is healthy. Look for Francois Beauchemin to draw back into the lineup regularly and provide some value to folks in deep leagues counting hits and blocked shots.

This may also open up some breathing room for Josh Manson to expand his game. It probably won’t be enough to make Mason relevant outside of deep multi-cat leagues, but the big shutdown defenseman has flashed some skills recently.

Henrique has moved all over the Devil lineup and will likely do something similar for Anaheim once that team gets healthy. The optimistic view is that he’ll jump onto a line with Corey Perry and skate all the minutes he can handle, but I wonder if the better fit is to have him join Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano to make a speedy shutdown line. This is the Kesler spot so it’s one that can be highly productive if enough power play time is given. Considering the injuries up front Henrique could very well go from skating 18 minutes a night in New Jersey to 20+ minutes in Anaheim. One of Chris Wagner or Derek Grant is going to get nudged down the depth chart by Henrique.

Eventually, the Ducks will get healthy and Henrique will slide into a third-line role where he’ll provide depth scoring, but for the next two months he’s their best centerman. He has scored at a 60-point pace before. Expect something similar.

Blandisi represents a depth option for Anaheim who will likely fall out of the lineup once they get healthy, but there may be minutes for him in the short term.

In New Jersey, Vatanen will now compete with Will Butcher and Damon Severson for power play chances. Butcher is well entrenched as their top offensive defenseman, though his numbers should decline through simple regression, not because of Vatanen’s arrival. Severson is at greater risk, especially because he hasn’t been productive to begin with. Averaging 20:14 per game with 2:15 on the power play, Severson cannot afford to lose minutes.

Vatanen is in a similar spot not being able to afford to lose minutes. Plenty will be available to him with the Devils, though if used as more of a shutdown option, he won’t be nearly as fantasy relevant as you might hope. While the Devils offer more offense than the Ducks currently, this probably hurts Vatanen more than it helps.

The Devils’ power play combinations have been all over the map, but the most common one of late has involved Butcher at the point with Taylor Hall, Jesper Bratt, Brian Boyle and Henrique. Everyone has been wishing that the Henrique spot would go to Nico Hischier. If it does, there’s another level for Hischier to hit. The rookie is currently on pace for 60 points, and will likely finish in that range, but he’ll be in a better spot to sustain or boost that production if he gets top PP minutes. The dynamic playmaker is leaving something on the table skating on the second unit.

Because Vatanen and Henrique both fill needs for their new teams, this deal should help the goaltenders. Both John Gibson and Cory Schneider receive a boost.

 

Players this helps, in order:

Brandon Montour

Cam Fowler

Adam Henrique

Nico Hischier

John Gibson

Cory Schneider

Jakob Silfverberg

Joseph Blandisi

 

Players this hurts: in order:

Sami Vatanen

Damon Severson

Derek Grant

Chris Wagner

 

*

Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.