After surviving deadline, Vatanen wants to be a Duck ‘for a long time’

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There was a fair bit of uncertainty around Anaheim blueliner Sami Vatanen at Monday’s trade deadline. A pending RFA with high upside, Vatanen was considered an outside candidate to be moved — something Ducks GM Bob Murray alluded to when he said he received “lots of calls” about “certain people on the back end.”

But when the 3 p.m. EST deadline passed, Vatanen remained with the Ducks.

And for that, he’s grateful.

“I want to be a Duck,” Vatanen said, per the O.C. Register. “That’s my first thing what I want to do. It’s been my favorite team. That’s on my mind. To be here for a long time would be a dream come true.”

The Ducks probably have similar dreams.

Vatanen, 24, is in the final year of his second pro contract — a two-year, $2.525 million pact with a $1.26M average annual cap hit. It’s one of the best value contracts in the league, as Vatanen currently leads all Ducks d-men in scoring with 34 points, putting him top-30 among NHL blueliners.

As such, it wasn’t surprising to learn — via the Register — of reports suggesting Vantanen’s seeking a six-year deal at $6 million per season on his next deal. Though the Ducks emphatically denied that, Murray did say last week that he unsuccessfully tried to get Vatanen and the club’s other RFAs — Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell and Frederik Andersen — signed in December.

Which will make for a big offseason in Orange County.

“I’ve got lots of thinking to do about our defensive corps in the next four months,” Murray said following the deadline. “I wasn’t doing anything today. I want to have a long, hard look at what we’ve got going forward.”

That group, of course, features likes of Cam Fowler, Kevin Bieksa and Simon Despres locked in through 2018, and promising prospect Shea Theodore on the horizon.

It’s also widely assumed of the four RFAs needing new deals, Vatanen’s fellow blueliner, Lindholm, will be Murray’s top priority this summer.