Road to the Season: Vatanen On IR, Roster Finalized

Tom Szczerbowski

The opening day roster has been finalized, but the battle has only just begun between Peter Holland and Rickard Rakell.

According to Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register the Ducks put Sami Vatanen on injured reserve for his foot injury. With that, the team's roster is down to 23 and is finalized for opening night tomorrow in Vancouver.

This means that Swedish World Junior silver medalist, Rickard Rakell has made the team, at least for now. This move gives Bob Murray and Bruce Boudreau the ability to further evaluate Rakell versus Peter Holland for the fourth line center slot.

The 19-year-old Rakell (or Ricky Raccoon as Jen calls him) is still eligible to go back to the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. This season junior eligible players will be allowed to play five games in the NHL before burning a year of their entry level contract, as opposed to nine in a regular 82 game schedule, and can theoretically be sent down any time before the trade deadline, April 3.

In 32 games with Plymouth this season, Rakell has been nearly a point per game player with 13 goals and 30 points. Holland currently leads the Norfolk Admirals in points (31) and sits behind only Kyle Palmieri with 12 goals, though Holland has led the Ads for most of the season in both categories.

To me, this is Boudreau's influence being felt. A competition between two young, skilled centers for a fourth line position coming out of camp is something I wouldn't have even been able to fathom under Randy Carlyle. We fans had been promised a third scoring line since Sammy Pahlsson and Travis Moen were traded away at the 2009 deadline and it looks like we might finally be getting it.

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