The New Jersey Devils placed Sami Vatanen on waivers Sunday, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, a move that the team hopes could be useful just before the trade deadline.
Vatanen is a name that has been brought up as a trade chip for the selling Devils and while New Jersey has struggled this year, Vatanen has been solid. The 29-year-old has two goals and five points in 29 games and has a plus/minus of +1 this season, something hard to do with a losing team. Another positive is that Vatanen has remained healthy all season, something he hasn’t been successful at doing the last few years.
The veteran defenseman carries a cap hit of $2MM this season, an amount that actually isn’t that easy to fit in for many teams around the league. The Devils may have a better chance in trading him should he clear though, given the acquiring team could then place him on their taxi squad, burying $1.075MM of the deal until they make room. On top of that, the Devils can offer to retain half of his salary, making his contract easy to swallow. Teams also wouldn’t have to worry about his salary for next year as he will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.