It took two weeks longer than either party would have hoped, but the Anaheim Ducks have finally reached a contract with restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm.
Contract demands and a tough salary cap situation made negotiations difficult between the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm, but after he sat out the first eight games of the season, Anaheim has come to terms a six-year, $31.5-million contract with the 22-year-old rearguard.
The signing was first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, and at an average annual value of $5.25 million, Lindholm becomes the highest paid defenseman in Anaheim. That may seem surprising given his age, but Lindholm has been the Ducks’ best defenders over the past two seasons and is a definite No. 1 guy in Anaheim.
However, there will still need to be subsequent moves made. According to CapFriendly, the Ducks remain about $1.4 million over the salary cap with Lindholm’s signing, and that’s including the space that was freed up when defenseman Simon Despres was placed on long-term injured reserve. Regardless of what will need to be done, though, the Ducks’ priority was clearly signing Lindholm, and GM Bob Murray has gotten that done.
That’s great news for the Ducks, too, because over the past few days, speculation had been that the Ducks and Lindholm were close to reaching a deal but a financial gap between the two sides had them at a standstill. Clearly, whatever the issue was, the two sides have been able to work out their differences to get Lindholm back in uniform.
The signing couldn’t come at a better time for the Ducks, either, because the club has struggled out of the gate under coach Randy Carlyle. Despite a convincing 6-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, the Ducks have only picked up eight of a possible 16 points through the first eight games of the season.
Lindholm won’t be available to immediately jump back into the lineup, however. The salary cap issue is one that will need to be worked, to be sure, but McKenzie also reported that Lindholm will need to secure a work visa in order to get into the lineup. That could take anywhere from one to two weeks, McKenzie said, and could force Lindholm to miss another four games.
Drafted sixth-overall by the Ducks in 2012, Lindholm immediately made the jump to the AHL in 2012-13 and was more than just an NHL regular by his second season in the North American pro game.
He averaged more than 19 minutes of ice time during his rookie season in 2013-14, scored six goals and 30 points in 78 games and finished seventh in Calder Trophy voting. He followed that up with a seven-goal, 34-point campaign in 2014-15 that saw him take on top-pairing minutes for a Stanley Cup contending team, and this past season, Lindholm notched 10 goals and 28 points in 80 games while earning a handful of votes for the Norris Trophy.
With Lindholm signed, the only restricted free agent still without a contract is Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba.
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