I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know too much about Ossi Vaananen, but the more I read about the guy, the more I like the pick-up.
A fair number of Philadelphia fans on HFBoards don’t like the fact that Vaananen was waived in the first place. IMHO, that says a lot. Up until about a month ago, Vaananen was playing with Kimmo Timonen as the Flyers’ top-pairing and logging an average of close to 20 minutes per game. He was also popular in the team’s dressing room. For whatever reason however, he found himself lower on the depth chart and in the press box.
Vaananen, a 28-year-old native of Finland, has played nearly 500 NHL games and is a former second-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes.
“He’s a sixth-seventh defenceman on a good team, so he gives us depth in that area,” Canuck coach Alain Vigneault said Friday. “He’s a big stay-at-home D.”
The six-foot, four-inch Vaananen is on a one-year contract worth $1 million US. He becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Canuck defenceman Sami Salo has played with Vaananen on Finnish national teams in the past.
“He’s a good guy and a really solid defensive defenceman,” Salo said. “He doesn’t back off any physical play and plays hard every game. I think he going to fit pretty good in this locker room.”
The Kurtenbloggers have this to add:
Here’s what we know about Vaananen – he’s big (6-foot-4, 215lbs), cheap ($1 million) and, based on his career numbers, can play around 18 minutes per night. He’s a physical defenceman (led all rookies in hits in 2000-01 with 190) who’s not much of an offensive threat (career-high 16 points), but a career plus-25 mark is indicative of his responsiblity in his own zone. Apparently, he’s also quite injury prone, which is another reason he should get along with Salo.
Regardless, it certainly sounds like Vaananen is quite a serviceable defenseman. He gives the Canucks some much-needed depth on the blueline. Assuming the Canucks’ d-men all stay healthy, he would be their number 6/7 guy with Shane O’Brien and behind Ohlund, Salo, Mitchell, Bieksa and Edler. If any of them get injured, he would be able to play more than the 10 minutes per game Rob Davison plays.
More importantly, Vaananen’s acquisition cost the Canucks nothing more than a roster spot. Considering what the team had given up for depth defensemen in previous years – i.e. 2nd and 4th round draft picks for Brent Sopel, Brent Skinner and a 2nd round pick for Keith Carney (and Juha Alen), Tomas Mozjis and a 3rd round draft pick for Eric Weinrich, a 4th round draft pick for Sean Brown, and a 7th round draft pick for Marc Bergevin – getting Vaananen without giving up an asset is a treat.