Hurricanes bolster defense, acquire Brady Skjei, Sami Vatanen

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Monday, February 24, 2020

After losing Brett Pesce to a long-term shoulder injury, the Carolina Hurricanes shored up their defense by acquiring Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers and Sami Vatanen from the New Jersey Devils.

The Rangers get a first-round draft pick for Skjei. New Jersey gets forward Janne Kuokkanen, defenseman Fredrik Claesson and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2020 NHL draft. The Devils retain 50% of Vatanen's salary.

Pesce went down Saturday, along with goaltenders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek. Vatanen himself has been on injured reserve since Feb. 1 after blocking a shot against the Stars.

Skjei, 25, has eight goals and 15 assists in 60 games this season, his fifth with the Rangers. His best season was his first full one in the league, when he had five goals and 34 assists in 80 games in 2016-17.

Skjei is in the second year of a six-year contract that carries a cap hit of $5.25 million.

Vatanen has five goals and 18 assists in 47 games this season. This is the second in-season trade for Vatanen in his career. He joined the Devils in November 2017 in a deal that sent Adam Henrique to the Anaheim Ducks.

Vatanen will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

The Hurricanes had already bolstered the offense by acquiring Vincent Trocheck from the Panthers earlier Monday, and then they shored up the blue line. Goaltending still appears to be an issue due to the injuries.

Carolina is clinging to the second wild card in the East.

Moving Vatanen continues a challenging season that the Devils entered with hope when they drafted Jack Hughes No. 1 overall and traded for P.K. Subban. New Jersey is in last in the Metropolitan Division and has already fired coach John Hynes and general manager Ray Shero.

The Devils dealt Wayne Simmonds to the Sabres on Monday.