NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 31: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins tries to skate past Sami Vatanen #45 of the New Jersey Devils during an NHL hockey game on December 31, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Devils won 3-2 in a shootout.
(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils have placed defenseman Sami Vatanen on injured reserve and have called up winger Nick Merkley.

New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen‘s trade value might have just taken a dip. The team announced Thursday that he’s been placed on injured reserve in a move that’s retroactive to Feb. 1.

Vatanen has been out for two weeks after blocking a shot that bruised his right leg. Since he’s technically been on injured reserve for over seven days now, he’s allowed to return to the roster at any time.

With the trade deadline arriving on Feb. 24 and the Devils not in playoff contention, Vatanen has been involved in several rumors. While this injury doesn’t appear overly serious, there’s a chance the defenseman’s trade value takes a slight hit. Opposing teams are always looking to acquire the best players for the cheapest price possible.

The reason the Devils placed Vatanen on injured reserve was to make room for right-winger Nick Merkley. The team recalled Merkley from Binghamton to replace him on the roster.

New Jersey acquired Merkley in December as part of the trade that sent Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes. Arizona drafted him No. 30 overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Since his draft selection, Merkley has only played in one NHL game. The appearance came with the Coyotes on Dec. 19, 2017. He saw 13.5 minutes of ice time against the Florida Panthers before Arizona sent him down to the AHL.

In 21 AHL games since the trade to New Jersey, Merkley has tallied seven goals and 11 assists.

“Obviously following the team down there, they’ve been playing really good hockey, and [Merkley’s] been a big contributor,” Devils interim coach Alain Nasreddine told Chris Ryan of NJ Advance Media.

“Works hard and good all-around player.”

The Devils will be back in action Friday when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh.

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