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Carolina Hurricanes acquire Vatanen from Devils, Skjei from Rangers

With minutes to go until the deadline, the Hurricanes closed two deals to acquire a pair of defensemen.

NHL: JAN 30 Predators at Devils Photo by Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils just prior to Monday’s NHL trade deadline. The deal was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. In return, the Hurricanes sent winger Janne Kuokkanen, defenseman Frederik Claesson and a conditional fourth-round pick that could become a third-rounder depending on how many games Vatanen plays. The Devils will retain 50% of Vatanen’s $4.125 million AAV for the remainder of the season.

According to Waddell, the conditions on the fourth-round pick are: no pick if Vatanen plays fewer than five games, a fourth-rounder if Vatanen plays between five and 12 games, and a third-rounder if he plays 13 or more. The Canes have 21 games remaining in the season.

Vatanen is currently on injured reserve after suffering a bruised leg blocking a shot on February 1 in a game against the Dallas Stars. He is skating again, and was practicing with the Devils yesterday although he was held out of today’s practice in anticipation of a trade being made. Hurricanes GM Don Waddell says that Vatanen is expected to return to the lineup in early March, and he will be an unrestricted free agent following this season.

In a separate deal, the Hurricanes also acquired defenseman Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers for a first-round pick, first reported by Shayna Goldman of The Athletic. The pick going to the Rangers is the lower of the two the Hurricanes will own in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft.

Skjei is in the second season of a six-year contract and is signed through 2024 at a AAV of $5.25 million. He has eight goals and 23 points in 60 games this season, putting him on pace for a career high in goals (which he will set if he gets to 9), and behind only the 39 points he recorded in his rookie season when he was second to Ryan McDonagh in both assists and points.

In order to fit the incoming defensemen under the salary cap, Waddell said that the Hurricanes have placed Dougie Hamilton on long-term injured reserve. The releases from the team are below.

Carolina sends Kuokkanen, Claesson and conditional pick to New Jersey in trade

Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for forward Janne Kuokkanen, defenseman Fredrik Claesson and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. New Jersey will retain 50% of Vatanen’s salary in the trade.

“Sami is a player that fits our system well,” said Waddell. “His skating, vision and puck-moving skills will help us out in all facets of the game. We expect him to return to the lineup in early March.”

Vatanen, 28, has registered 23 points (5g, 18a) in 47 NHL games with the Devils this season. The 5’10”, 185-pound defenseman has posted 194 points (45g, 149a) in 434 career NHL games with New Jersey and Anaheim. Vatanen has skated in 44 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording 23 points (6g, 17a). The Jyvaskyla, Finland, native has averaged over 21:00 of ice time in each of the last six seasons, and he has tallied 86 career power-play points (21g, 65a). Vatanen has represented Finland internationally at the 2010 and 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships, the 2010 IIHF World Championship, the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He was drafted by the Ducks in the fourth round, 106th overall, of the 2009 NHL Draft.

Carolina sends 2020 first-round selection to New York in trade

Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has acquired defenseman Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers in exchange for a first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. If the Hurricanes have more than one first-round selection, the latest first-round pick will be the one that transfers to New York.

“Brady is a big defenseman who checks all the boxes,” said Waddell. “He’s an excellent skater, he’s competitive, he can move the puck and he can defend. He’s under contract through the 2023-24 season, so this is another acquisition that helps us immediately and in the long-term.”

Skjei, 25, is in his fifth NHL season and has scored eight goals and added 15 assists (23 points) in 60 games with the New York Rangers. The Lakeville, Minn., native is second among Rangers defensemen in goals, fourth in assists and fourth in points, averaging 20:41 of ice time per game. The Rangers’ first round selection, 28th overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft, Skjei has totaled 112 points (25g, 87a) and 170 penalty minutes in 307 career games with New York. He was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team in 2017 after registering 39 points (5g, 34a) in 80 games during his first full NHL season.

Prior to turning professional, Skjei spent three seasons at the University of Minnesota, totaling 27 points (8g, 19a) in 109 collegiate games. A product of the United States National Team Development Program, Skjei has represented at the 2011 U-17 World Junior Championship, the 2012 U-18 World Junior Championship, the 2014 World Junior Championship and the 2016, 2017 and 2019 IIHF World Championships.