After a disappointing first round exit that cost head coach Bruce Boudreau his job, the Anaheim Ducks will be looking to get back to Stanley Cup contention in 2016-17, and take the division crown for the fifth consecutive season. While their ’big-3’ up front, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler, are locked up long term, the team has quite a few young players looking for raises as they hit restricted free agency. Here’s a look at their upcoming offseason:
Key Restricted Free Agent: D Hampus Lindholm – While you could pick from a handful of names for the Ducks’ key RFA this summer, Lindholm represents the most important out of all of them. After being selected 6th overall by Anaheim in the 2012 draft, Lindholm has continued to improve on his defensive ability, reaching all new heights this season. While his usual excellent +/- numbers dipped slightly due to playing against tougher competition, he logged 22 minutes a night leading one of the youngest and most effective blue lines in the league.
His possession metrics are unbelievable, coming fourth in the league in CF% (a measure of puck possession based on shots for and against) only behind the excellent Los Angeles group. Lindholm improved the possession numbers of every single teammate he played with, providing Lidstrom-like efficiency on the back end. While he may never put up Karlsson or Burns type offensive numbers, his value is certainly felt by his teammates and front office.
Coming off his entry level contract and still only 22, Lindholm could get a long-term extension similar to the one Morgan Rielly received last month from Toronto. The Maple Leaf defender signed a six-year $30MM dollar deal to stay in Toronto, giving away two of his UFA years to lock in the higher value now.
Key Unrestricted Free Agent: LW Jamie McGinn – When the Ducks acquired Jamie McGinn from the Sabres in late February of this year, they thought they were getting a nice two-way player who could chip in a few goals for them down the stretch. What they got was 8 goals and 12 points in 21 games, landing him career highs in both categories and putting him back in the valued 20-goal club.
As he hits free agency this year he arrives with the fifth most goals available on the open market, ahead of players expected to get big deals like David Backes and Milan Lucic. While his point totals aren’t as high, his relative youth – McGinn won’t turn 28 until August 5th – and solid goal scoring ability should land him a multi-year deal somewhere. Whether the Ducks can give him that isn’t quite clear.
With Lindholm, Andersen, Vatanen and Rakell all needing deals, the Ducks may just let McGinn walk away if he gets too pricey. After earning $2.95MM over the last two seasons he’ll be looking for a deal close to $4MM for at least three seasons.
Projected Cap Space: $18.1MM, 15 players under contract.
The Ducks have a fair bit to worry about over the next year, as they are at risk of losing one of their good young defencemen in next year’s expansion draft. With Kevin Bieksa requiring protection due to his NMC, three of Lindholm, Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson and Simon Despres will be left exposed as it currently stands. While there is no clear way to get around this without crippling your blueline, the team may choose to deal the more valuable pieces before the draft next season. For now, their focus will be on getting them under contract.