Sami Vatanen Having Positive Effect on Devils

Sami Vatanen was acquired by the New Jersey Devils on November 30th. -Getty Images

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The New Jersey Devils made a splash earlier in the season when they acquired defenseman Sami Vatanen in a trade that sent forwards Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi and a conditional draft pick to Anaheim. Since his acquistion on November 30th, Vatanen has suited up in the red and black for seventeen straight games. Not only has he been affecting the team in a positive manner, but he has also had a huge impact on fellow defense partner John Moore.

The Impact on the Team

Before Trade After Trade
CF% 46.29 49.24
SF% 46.59 50.97
SCF% 47.34 48.11
HDCF% 52.41 55.67

**Statistics obtained via naturalstattrick.com**

The table above contains four major five-on-five underlying statistics that contribute to a team’s success. We can see in each category, an improvement is evident since the trade. The first statistic I examined was the team’s Corsi rating (CF%). For those who are unfamiliar, Corsi is a measurement of a team’s shot attempts at five-on-five and is a good indication of possession.

Before Sami Vatanen was a member of the Devils, they ranked 30th in the league in Corsi. That was similar to teams such as the Arizona Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche. However, since the trade, the Devils have made a substantial improvement in their CF% and now rank 18th in the league.  The Devils shot ratio (SF%) at five-on-five has also seen improvement, moving from 30th to 12th in the league since the Vatanen trade.

The two other statistics I examined relate directly to the Devils ability to generate shots as well. More specifically, measuring how dangerous their shots actually are. Their scoring chances for percentage (SCF%) and high-danger chances for percentage (HDCF%) both saw good improvement. The Devils jumped eight spots in the league in SCF% and improved nearly 4% in their HDCF%.

Overall, since coming over from Anaheim, Sami Vatanen’s presence has helped improve some major advanced statistics for the New Jersey Devils.

The Impact on John Moore

Before Trade After Trade
Avg. TOI 15.46 16.55
Off. Zone FO % 53.15 56.77
CF% 48.97 51.48
SF% 47.30 52.50
HDCF% 48.94 57.95

**Statistics obtained via naturalstattrick.com**

Since coming to the Devils, Sami Vatanen has had two different defense partners. He originally started out with captain Andy Greene. However, the two did not spend much time together. This resulted in the formation of the Devils most successful and effective pairing of Sami Vatanen and John Moore. As stated above, Vatanen has not only improved the team as a whole but has had a positive effect on John Moore.

The table above shows the improvements Moore has experienced since his pairing with Vatanen began. He has seen an increase in five-on-five ice time, which should not come as a surprise since Vatanen has led defenseman in ice time since coming aboard. Moore has also seen a drastic improvement in his shot metrics. Each of his Corsi, shot, and high danger scoring chance ratios are much higher.

With advanced statistics, there may be the argument that his recent improvement is due to a rise in his offensive zone start rate. For those who aren’t familiar, it measures which zone a player starts a shift when a faceoff is taken. Typically, a player will have higher ratios because they are on the ice for more favorable faceoff locations. However, in this case, John Moore’s offensive zone start rate has only risen by three percent, so he isn’t necessarily succeeding due to a greater number of offensive zone face-offs. All-around, he has seen great improvement in his game since being paired with Sami Vatanen.

Conclusion

Since the trade was made, many Devils fans have had mixed reviews on Vatanen’s performance. He has contributed one goal, five assists and is a -5. He has also played a substantial amount of time (21:55 ATOI), which leads all Devils’ defenseman since the trade. Another statistic that shows the effect he’s had on the team since coming over is that, as a team, they own a Corsi of 51.2% when he is on the ice. However, when he is off the ice, it decreases to 48.2%. As a result, he has one of the best relative CF% at +3.08%, which ranks 6th on the team.

All the statistics point to the addition of Vatanen being a huge benefit thus far. However, many fans sounded off after he had a pitiful game against the Stars on January 7th, which saw him take three-minor penalties and surmount a -2 rating. It’d be unfair to judge him on a single game performance. His statistics are there to conclude that his acquisition has given them a solid top-four defenseman who’s helping them move in the right direction.

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