Defenseman Sami Vatanen re-signs with New Jersey Devils

TOM CANAVAN

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Devils have re-signed defenseman Sami Vatanen less than a year after trading him to Carolina.

The Devils announced Thursday that the free agent was given a one-year, $2 million contract.

“He's highly competitive,” coach Lindy Ruff said after practice. “He's another veteran we can put inside our dressing room who knows how to play the game the right way.”

The Devils were without goaltender Corey Crawford for the fourth consecutive day. The 36-year-old was given off on Monday and Tuesday for what the team called “maintenance” and got personal days on Wednesday and Thursday.

Ruff would not disclose the reason Crawford needed time off. The longtime Chicago Blackhawk recently signed a two-year contract with the Devils as a free agent.

Vatanen previously played parts of three seasons with the Devils (2017-20). In 154 games with New Jersey, he scored 12 goals and 56 assists for 68 points while adding 76 penalty minutes. He had five goals and 18 assists in 47 games before being dealt to the Hurricanes at the trade deadline.

New Jersey acquired forward Janne Kuokkanen, defenseman Fredrik Claesson and a draft pick, who turned out to be goaltender Nico Daws. Vatanen had three assists in seven playoff games with the Hurricanes.

Vatanen has played in 434 career games with New Jersey and Anaheim. He was initially acquired by the Devils from the Anaheim.

The native of Finland was Anaheim’s fifth selection (fourth round) and the 106th overall choice in the 2009 NHL draft. He was in the same Anaheim draft class as current Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri.

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