Tampa Bay Lightning: Could Sami Vatanen Find Himself In A Lightning Uniform?

Jan 1, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2016; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

With all of the trade talk surrounding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, there are some key players the team could get back in the deal. Could Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen be a key piece in a deal?

The Tampa Bay Lightning have really been in the news over the last couple of days ever since the agent of forward Jonathan Drouin came public with a trade request from the Lighting for his client. Since that day, speculation has swirled around the team and different predictions have been made about what team could eventually land Drouin if a deal were to be made.

If the Lightning were to trade Drouin, their preference would be to get an NHL ready player to go along with prospects or draft selections. One player that really interests me is Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen, a right-handed shooting defenseman who is a native of Jyväskylä, Finland.

In our original trade prediction article, we listed the Anaheim Ducks as one of the potential destinations for the 20-year-old Lightning winger. You can check out the rest of the potential trade partners here.

When first talking about a potential trade to the Ducks, the first player that came to mind was defenseman Cam Fowler. Though he is currently sidelined with a knee injury, the 24-year-old left-handed shooting defenseman has been a key cog on the Ducks blue line for the last couple of seasons and signed a five-year contract extension back in 2012. Fowler would not become a free agent until the end of the 2018-19 season with a cap hit of $4 million dollars per season.

However, after looking over the Ducks roster and cap situation, I do not believe Ducks General Manager Bob Murray will be willing to let go of his prized defenseman. It’s unfortunate for the Lightning as Fowler could be a star on the blue line for many years to come, but unless Yzerman pulls a miracle, I doubt this happens.

However, there is another player on the Ducks roster that could intrigue Lightning General Manager Steve Yzermam, and that is defenseman Sami Vatenen. So far in 39 games this season, Vatenen has 5 goals and 15 assists. Right now, Vatenen has more points than any Lightning defender. Our good friends over at pucksofafeather.com gave us the inside scoop of what Vatenen could add to the Lightning.

"Vatanen was a 4th round pick back in ’09 and took some time to come into his own but he’s now playing big minutes in the Ducks top 4. He’s 24 years old and has really come into his own despite being a smaller defenseman at just 5 foot 10.Plain and simple, Vatanen is an offensive minded puck moving blue-liner that loves to join the rush. He can quarterback a top power play unit and despite his size, he has a powerful slap shot from the point. He has great hands which allow him to make some really nice plays in the offensive zone.His first pass is pretty good and he sees the game well. His patience is underrated and he often makes the right decision. However as is the case with any offensive minded defenseman, mishaps and turnovers occur and that is something you live with in hopes that Sami’s offense will outweigh the mishaps.Defensively he has to work a bit harder than others due to his size but he does a nice job of using his stick to block shots. He does a nice job killing penalties as well. For being a smaller guy he really battles hard up against the boards and doesn’t shy away from contact which is another plus in his game.Vatanens weakness comes from his lack of powerful skating ability. He doesn’t have that strong first step that guys like Fowler and Lindholm do and it exposes him at time in transition. If he’s in a foot race with a forward, Vatanen likely won’t win. However, he is agile and in open space he makes nice plays with shifty skating. His lack of acceleration makes positioning an important part of his game.For a guy like Vatanen, picking the right opportunity to join the rush is extremely important. He’s improved minimizing his risk fairly well this season. However, due to his size and sub par acceleration, he at times gets stopped in the neutral zone when trying to carry the puck up the ice. This seems to be happening a bit more as of recent and I think teams are trying to really take away his time and space in the neutral zone as he’s become more dangerous over time. Vatanen is playing more minutes than anyone with Fowler out of the lineup and he has had some ups and downs recently but you expect that from a young guy getting a bigger role for the first time.Tampa has reportedly been looking for a puck moving defenseman and Vatanen could be that guy. His ability to play in every situation is what makes him that much more valuable."

Next: Tampa Bay Lightning Defenseman Andrej Sustr Continues To Improve

If Yzerman wanted to add another body to the blue line, Vatanen could be a player that gives the Lightning good value at the position. His minutes would be cut substantially from what he is playing in Anaheim, making him that much better when he is on the ice. Along with a prospect and a pick toward the top of the draft, Drouin could find himself shipped off to the great state of California to play for a talented Ducks team. Who knows, maybe the team can offload another forward like Erik Condra in the deal as well.