by PuckStopsHere on 02/18/14 at 12:06 AM ET
When I watch the Olympics, I often look for non-NHL players who appear capable of being NHLers. While none of these have stood out to me so far, there is a bit NHL player who has looked like he is good enough to play a much bigger role in the NHL. He is Sami Vatanen of Finland. He is a rookie with the Anaheim Ducks in the NHL.
Vatanen has been the top defenceman on the Finnish team that has qualified for the quarterfinals. They played a strong defensive game against Canada and Vatanen was a big part of it.
In the NHL Vatanen has scored 14 points in 31 games so far this year. He is a third line defenceman on the first place Ducks. He often plays with limited ice time. In fact, he is seventh on the Ducks when ranked by ice time per game on defence this season.
Vatanen was a fourth round selection by Anaheim in 2009. He first came to the NHL in 2012 and spent most of the year in the AHL. He managed to make the AHL First All Star team despite missing 14 AHL games due to an NHL callup.
Sami Vatanen looks like he is a capable NHL player. He has been buried in the Anaheim Ducks defensive depth. I think he is good enough that he will emerge from it with a significant role but he hasn't done so yet.
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