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11-03-2012, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Henkine View Post
I don't disagree at all with this, but defender has to defend and Vatanen hasn't delivered in defensive end.
Believe me, I've been one of the louder voices regarding Vatanen needing a more complete game. I agree that he needs to be reliable defensively. For the most part, I think he's been good enough in the AHL. It's too early to say if it's good enough in the NHL, but I'd certainly expect a few struggles in that regard. He needs to get better, but there's something to work with there, and every reason to think he'll improve.

He makes positional errors more often than not. Also he has problems in decision making, when it's wise to try to keep the puck in offensive zone and when to back down to neutral to get ready to defend.
Keep in mind he's on small ice now. The positional game changes a bit. Also, on deciding when to hold the line and when to back off, I'd consider that an experience issue for a young defenseman. Vatanen clearly thinks offense first, and that's okay, but at the NHL level you really need to be willing to play defense first, at least when you should be. The rest of the time he can think offense first. These are easily fixable issues, that will come with some experience and coaching.

I expect Vatanen to be at least as good defensively as he was for the last two years. Positional defending and good poke checks and solid PK. That shouldn't be too much to ask.

He was considered as a lock for World Championships for two years in a row. With this kind of play there is no chance for him to play himself in the Finnish national team.

I thought Vatanen would play himself in the Ducks line-up right from the camp. Now it doesn't seem worth the risk. Maybe I had too big hopes for him. I considered him as high of a prospect as his countryman Granlund.

Vatanen truly was great in the defensive zone in Finland. Maybe the smaller ice and higher pace is a bit too much for him to handle. Or maybe he's still learning the North American game. But watching him and Lindholm I must say that Lindholm's transition to NA game has gone better for now.

There is still a lot to play in the season. We'll see if Vatanen starts to play better when he gets accustomed to the game. Also learning the language might help him feel more comfortable on the ice also.
It's a different game here, and he's having to learn to play that game. Let him get acclimated first. That's not regression, not really. It's just a young player adjusting. Defensively, it's a much tougher game in North America, because there is less time and space, it's a more physical in your face type of game, and really... with the lockout, he's facing NHL talent immediately. Not low end NHL talent either, but some seriously good young players.

Making the jump directly into the NHL was always a long shot, and it certainly wasn't going to be a seamless transition. To be blunt, I think anyone who expected him to jump directly into the NHL as a great player was either overestimating Vatanen, and the FEL, or they were underestimating the NHL, and how rare it is for players to jump directly in without a few struggles.

The bottom line is that we're talking about a 21 year old defenseman here, who is getting his first taste of North American hockey. He's already not a finished product, and on top of that he's going through a pretty big culture shock, both on and off the ice. Let the kid settle into the game a bit. As he gets more comfortable, he'll probably show more of the Vatanen you're expecting, and some experience and coaching will do the rest.

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