Hampus Lindholm finally signs with Anaheim; now, who leaves?

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LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 04: <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/5686/" data-ylk="slk:Hampus Lindholm">Hampus Lindholm</a> #47 of the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/ana/" data-ylk="slk:Anaheim Ducks">Anaheim Ducks</a>. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 04: Hampus Lindholm #47 of the Anaheim Ducks. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks have finally signed their restricted free-agent defenseman – and, well, best defenseman – Hampus Lindholm to a six-year contract extension with an average annual value of $5.25 million, according to Bob McKenzie.

Lindholm, 22, has played 236 NHL games and has 23 goals and 69 assists. Under previous coach Bruce Boudreau, he was a possession monster, including a 57.8-percent Corsi rating at 5-on-5 last season.

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He missed the Ducks’ first eight games (3-3-2) while negotiating a new deal. Lindholm wasn’t eligible for salary arbitration, so playing hardball was the only effective tactic he and agent Claude Lemieux had. Complicating matters were other contracts being inked around the league: The Buffalo Sabres gave Rasmus Ristolainen on a six-year deal worth $32.4 million, and the Lindholm camp was using the eight-year, $60-million contract Florida gave Aaron Ekblad as the basis for their initial ask.

There were multiple reports that the gap was a mere $250,000 per season between Lindholm and the Ducks, who fought hard considering their limited salary cap space. They get him in at $31.5 million over six years, less than a million cheaper than Ristolainen – a surprise, frankly, given that Lindholm is the demonstrably better defenseman at this point.

Here’s how the contract breaks down:


But as we said: “limited salary cap space.”

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According to Cap Friendly, they’re capped out, with Simon Despres on long-term injured reserve the only thing keeping their heads under the ceiling, The cap situation and their roster configuration almost ensure they trade a defenseman; the looming expansion draft necessitates it, as Lindholm and Sami Vatanen will be protected and Kevin Bieksa and his inexplicable no-move clause have to be protected.

Which brings us to Cam Fowler, 24, making $4 million in each of the next two seasons.

Teams are expected to line up for the puck-rushing defenseman, including those that have been chasing one for some time: The Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers among them.

But those teams know that Despres (or any other player) won’t be on LTIR forever with a concussion, and the clock is ticking for the Ducks to resolve their cap situation. So while GM Bob Murray deserves snaps for getting Lindholm in at a discount, the Ducks will have to part with a young, talented defenseman with contract term at a discount, too – unless a bidding war materializes.

UPDATE: Additional contract info from McKenzie –



 

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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