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On Vatanen's future and Schneider's play at the Worlds

May 24, 2019, 12:27 PM ET [30 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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1) The more I think about it, the more I could see Sami Vatanen being traded this off-season.

He needs a new contract in a year's time, and he'll undoubtedly be looking for a raise – perhaps a fairly significant one – from the $4.875 million he is pulling in annually right now. Factoring in the always sizeable market for any competent defender, he'll no doubt get it.

I don't think Ray Shero wants to pay a premium to keep Vatanen, nor do I think he should.

Vatanen will put up some points but he is not someone who really drives the bus offensively, nor is he someone who locks it down in his own end. He'll also be 29 by the time he plays a game under a new deal. A long-term extension would carry a lot of risk and not much upside.

Vatanen probably has more value as a trade piece than he would as a long-term Devil, which is why I expect Shero to explore his options this summer.

There are several big-name defenders who could be available this summer, headlined by Jacob Trouba and P.K. Subban. The Jets almost certainly need a defender back in any Trouba deal. The Predators? Not as much, but one would think they'd want to plug up some of Subban's ~23 minutes per game if they can.

A trade for either of those two, or any other notable, would involve a lot more than Vatanen heading the other way, but he strikes me as an obvious candidate to be included as a cheaper (and lesser, of course) replacement on the back-end.

Just something to watch for in the coming months.

2) Cory Schneider going to the Worlds made a lot of sense. It was not only an opportunity to build on a strong ending to his NHL season but to get more live game reps against quality competition. I don't think the value can be understated considering how often he had to sit on the sidelines over the last couple years.

That's why I was so happy to see him enjoy success with Team USA. Though they didn't go as far as hoped or expected, it was not the fault of Schneider.

He posted a .920 save percentage, which is really good and directly in line with what he accomplished from February 14th onward.

Across 21 appearances (15 NHL, six WHC) from that point, Schneider recorded a ~.921 save percentage. Even over a somewhat small sample size, numbers like that are really encouraging given how lost he once looked.

Let's hope it's a sign of things to come in 2019-20.

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