Despite the Carolina Hurricanes’ depth on defense, it appears as though the team could still re-sign free agent Sami Vatanen.
According to NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti, the Hurricanes “haven’t closed the door” on bringing Vatanen back. In Gulitti’s article, Waddell is quoted as saying that the Hurricanes will continue to talk to him and he believes there’s a fit for Vatanen in Carolina.
It’s pretty interesting to see that the Hurricanes are still keeping close tabs on Vatanen. When you look at Carolina’s defense group, they already have seven defensemen who could take on spots in their lineup. Adding Vatanen means someone would have to go, likely being Jake Gardiner. Realistically, they don’t even have the cap room to re-sign Vatanen, unless a move is made to free up space.
On top of that, Vatanen wasn’t great in his run with the Hurricanes either, in my opinion. He was a liability defensively and while he was able to add offense, he’d most likely play on the bottom pairing and I see another potential Jake Gardiner situation with him, where he’s not being used in the right role. So why would Carolina bring him back?
The one reason I could see the Hurricanes re-signing Vatanen would be in preparation for the expansion draft. If the Hurricanes were able to deal Gardiner and re-sign Vatanen, perhaps they’d keep Jake Bean in the AHL for an extra year, given that he’s exempt from waivers. This could make him less appealing to Seattle, considering he would have virtually no NHL experience and perhaps Vatanen would present as a better addition for Seattle than Haydn Fleury. This would be one potential way to keep all of their young left-handed defensemen safe in the expansion draft.
Again, the Hurricanes would need to clear cap space if they wanted to make this work and I do think it’s unlikely he returns to Carolina. That said, Don Waddell has been very intentional in his decisions since taking over as general manager and if Vatanen is brought back, Waddell likely has a plan in place.
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Here’s today’s poll questions (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
Are you hoping that the Hurricanes re-sign Sami Vatanen?