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Vatanen, Skjei traded to Hurricanes by Devils, Rangers

Carolina gives up Claesson, first-round, fourth-round picks @NHLdotcom

Sami Vatanen and Brady Skjei were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in separate transactions for the defensemen Monday.

Vatanen was acquired from the New Jersey Devils for defenseman Fredrik Claesson, forward prospect Janne Kuokkanen and conditional fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Skjei was acquired from the New York Rangers for the lower of Carolina's two first-round picks in 2020.

"Sami is player that fits our system well," Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. "His skating, vision and puck-moving skills will help us out in all facets of the game. We expect him to return to the lineup in early March."


[RELATED: 2019-20 NHL Trade Tracker]


Vatanen hasn't played since sustaining a right leg injury blocking a shot against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 1. He was placed on injured reserve Feb. 13.

Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said about whether Vatanen's injury played a role in the trade.

"I'm not going to lie, of course it did," Fitzgerald said. "There were concerns about when he can come back. His foot is not even in the boot yet. But I've been very transparent to all the teams that called on him and they all had his medicals and there were no concerns of long-term delays or anything like that."

Video: Hurricanes acquire defenseman Vatanen from Devils

Vatanen played the past three seasons in New Jersey after being traded by the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 30, 2017 for forwards Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi, and a third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Selected by Anaheim in the fourth round (No. 106) of the 2009 NHL Draft, Vatanen has 194 points (45 goals, 149 assists) in 434 regular-season games and has 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in 44 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Skjei is in the second season of a six-year contract. The 25-year-old has 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 60 games this season.

"Skjei is a big body (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), good defender," Waddell said. "He's going to add a little offensively. He plays the game hard, the right way."

A first-round pick (No. 28) in the 2012 NHL Draft, Skjei has 112 points (25 goals, 87 assists) in 307 regular-season games and seven points (four goals, three assists) in 17 playoff games.

"I will say, trading Brady Skjei is difficult," New York general manager Jeff Gorton said. "He's a special guy. He's a really good person. He's a good player. He's been a good Ranger. We wish him nothing but the best. It's just a move that we felt we had to make."

Video: Hurricanes acquire Brady Skjei from Rangers

Claesson, 27, has 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 47 games for Charlotte of the American Hockey League. He signed a one-year, two-way contract with Carolina on Sept. 17, 2019 and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Kuokkanen, 21, has 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) in 52 games with Charlotte and no points in 11 NHL games.

"We're really excited about Kuokkanen, we felt he was a top prospect in American League," Fitzgerald said. "He's been doing it now in their organization, he's has been doing it at a high level at the American League that we believe translates to the National Hockey League."

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