The New Jersey Devils today traded defenseman Sami Vatanen to the Carolina Hurricanes, in exchange for forward Janne Kuokkanen, defenseman Fredrik Claesson and Carolina's conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. New Jersey will retain 50% of Vatanen's salary in the transaction.
Kuokkanen, 21, was Carolina's second-round selection, 43rd overall, in the 2016 NHL Draft. The 6'1, 195lb., forward was the leading scorer for the Hurricanes' American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte with 12 goals and 30 assists for 42 points in 52 games. During the 2018-19 season, he appeared in seven games with Carolina, while appearing in 48 games with Charlotte (12 goals-26 assists-38 points) and was named to the AHL All-Star Team. He's skated in eleven career NHL games. In 160 career AHL games, Kuokkanen has 35 goals and 85 assists for 120 points in 160 games. He played one season in London (OHL) and played in Finland for Karpat. Born May 25, 1998, the native of Oulunsalo, Finland represented his country at the 2017 and 2018 World Junior Championships, while also helping win the gold medal at the 2016 World Junior under-18 tournament.
Claesson, 27, has three goals and 16 assists for 19 points in 47 games with Charlotte (AHL). He has played in 150 career regular season NHL contests, posting six goals and 20 assists for 26 points with 50 penalty minutes over the past four seasons with Ottawa and the New York Rangers. In 332 career AHL regular season games with Binghamton and Charlotte, he has 16 goals and 73 assists for 89 points with 202 penalty minutes. He played in Sweden for Djurgardens. Born November 24, 1992, the native of Stockholm, Sweden represented his country at the 2012 World Junior Championships, where he won a gold medal and the 2010 World Junior under-18 tournament, where he won a silver medal.
Vatanen has five goals and 18 assists for 23 points and 22 penalty minutes in 47 games for New Jersey. In 154 games with the Devils over the past three seasons, he scored 12 goals and 56 assists for 68 points while registering 76 penalty minutes. He was acquired by the Devils from the Anaheim Ducks on November 30, 2017. Vatanen is due to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019-20 season.
New Jersey now has nine picks in the 2020 NHL Draft: three first-round selections (NJ, Arizona & Vancouver via Tampa Bay), three fourth-round selections (NJ, Boston & Carolina- Conditional) and the club's own selection in rounds five, six and seven.