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Friedman: NHL Modifies the Pick Conditions from Carolina in Sami Vatanen Trade

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The night before the NHL Returns to Play, the league made rulings on various conditional picks. One of them was for the conditional pick the New Jersey Devils received from Carolina in the Sami Vatanen trade. Basically, if Vatanen plays twice in the coming week, the Devils will get at least a fourth round pick.

Carolina Hurricanes v Washington Capitals
We are going to need this man in #45 to play in at least two games in the coming days to ensure that Carolina sends New Jersey a draft pick.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

On the eve of the NHL returning to play meaningful games, the league has made some rulings regarding a number of conditional picks that were impacted in one way or another by the pause. Earlier this evening, Elliotte Friedman reported on Twitter that the NHL modified the conditional pick from the Sami Vatanen trade the New Jersey Devils made with the Carolina Hurricanes. The update to the conditional pick adds a new, minor wrinkle to the stakes at hand in Carolina’s series with Our Hated Rivals.

The original conditional pick from the Vatanen trade was as follows: The Devils would get a 2020 fourth round pick from Carolina if Vatanen appeared in at least five regular season games. That pick would be upgraded to a third round pick if Vatanen played in 12 regular season games or 70% of the team’s playoff games. If Vatanen did not appear in at least five regular season games for Carolina, then the Devils would get no pick at all.

The pandemic-forced pause to the league cut short the regular season and there was a little confusion as to what would count as playoff games for Vatanen. Both issues were addressed in the modification by the league. The now-modified conditional pick will function with the following conditions:

  • If Carolina beats Our Hated Rivals and Vatanen plays in at least 70% of Carolina’s playoff games thereafter, then the Devils will get Carolina’s third round pick in 2020.
  • If Carolina beats Our Hated Rivals, Vatanen plays in fewer than 70% of Carolina’s subsequent playoff games, and Vatanen appears in at least two games in the Carolina-New York series, then the Devils will get Carolina’s fourth round pick in 2020.
  • If Carolina loses to Our Hated Rivals and Vatanen appears in at least two games in the series, then Devils can choose between Carolina’s fourth round pick in 2020 or 2021.
  • If Vatanen does not play in two games against New York, then the Devils get no pick.

Essentially, we should all be cheering for Vatanen to appear in two games in the Carolina series. That alone will guarantee that New Jersey gets a pick. And if Carolina beats Our Hated Rivals, then how often Vatanen plays will determine if it is a fourth or a third round pick. This is the new situation.

Is it likely that Vatanen will play in two games? It depends on the health of Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce among other blueliners on Carolina. If they remain out, then Vatanen will likely be in the games and receiving significant minutes. If they are good to go, then he could be a victim of the numbers game. I still think he is better than Haydn Fleury, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Jake Bean. However, it does not matter what I think, it matters what head coach Rod Brind’Amour thinks.

A third round pick would be nice to have since the Devils do not have one this year. However, they are not worth very much in the bigger scheme of the draft, so I still stand by what I wrote in the rooting guide for that series: I am not losing any sleep for it. I would hope that if it comes down to the choice of year, then New Jersey would take the fourth for this year. A fourth rounder in 2021 is even less valuable today than a fourth rounder in 2020.

In any case, that is your evening update ahead of the Qualifying Round beginning play tomorrow. It starts with Our Hated Rivals playing Carolina at 12 PM ET. Let us hope Vatanen is dressed and takes at least one shift. Before then, please leave your reaction to the modification to the conditional pick in the comments. Do you like it? Hate it? Not really moved either way by it? Thank you for reading.