Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray wants to give his team’s core another opportunity at a championship despite salary cap and internal budget questions.
This is what led to the decision to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm on Thursday to a six-year contract worth $5.25 million per-year and not move any pieces to make room for Lindholm.
The Ducks are currently pressed up against the cap, and have forward Nate Thompson (Achilles injury) who makes $1.6 million per-year, and defenseman Simon Despres (possible concussion-related issues) who makes $3.7 million per-year on long-term injured reserve.
“We’re OK right now. We’re like a bunch of other teams right now, there’s a whole bunch of them. It’s funny that Anaheim is part of this group right now but we’re going to have to manage the cap. It’ll be an interesting experience,” Murray said. “I’m going to the best I can to give this group one more shot at this and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep it that way.”
In the past it seemed Murray would be forced to trade a defenseman in order to free up space for the 22-year-old Lindholm, who is arguably the team’s best blueliner. But in the end he somehow made all the pieces work at least for now. Last season Lindholm held a 57.8 CF% 5-on-5 and scored 10 goals and notched 18 assists in 80 games overall.
“It’s a business and (Lindholm’s agent) Claude Lemieux, he had a job to do and we had a job to do and we wanted to get it at a fair number for the organization so we could try to move forward with this group as best we can,” Murray said. “I said before I wanted to give this group another shot and I’m going to do everything in my power to keep it that way.”
In the past the Ducks have monitored an internal budget and last season the Anaheim owners Henry and Susan Samueli said the team was losing money. Murray gave thanks to the Samuelis for how they’ve been committed to giving this specific group another shot at a Stanley Cup.
“They had my back the whole time and they’ve been wonderful to work with and we’ll work on the budget as we work on the cap,” Murray said. “This never would have happened without their support.”
With Lindholm in the mix, the Ducks finally have a full roster of players under contract for the season.
The team signed RFA forward Rickard Rakell to a six-year contract worth $3.8 million per-year shortly after the start of the season, though he has been recovering from additional surgery to remove scar tissue that resulted from an appendectomy last year.
Lindholm needs to get a visa, which reportedly may take up to two weeks. Anaheim is currently 3-3-2 and won three of their last four games after a sluggish start.
“He’s a good, young hockey player that’s only going to get better and if he keeps developing the way he is, he has a great future ahead of him. It solidifies this organization is what it does,” Murray said. “It was a tough negotiation but that’s the business part of it. I’m happy and will try to get him here as quick as I can.”
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