Pierre McGuire today spoke with Blake Price of TSN 1040 in Vancouver and ssiad that the Ducks were in talks with a team in the Eastern Conference to “unload a significant contract,” presumably in order to clear enough space to re-sign RFAs Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell, according to this tweet from Price. We discussed Lindholm’s situation specifically earlier today, and if McGuire is accurate it would seem the Ducks and the Swedish-born defenseman have made enough progress on a new contract to prompt Anaheim to scour the trade market.
Earlier reports have placed Linholm’s asking price to be in the $6MM – $6.5MM range annually with the Ducks preferring to keep the AAV at around $5.5MM. For his part Rakell is looking for a contract similar to that which fellow Swede Victor Rask signed this summer: six years with an AAV of $4MM. Even if the parties meet somewhere in the middle of their respective positions, it looks like Anaheim will need somewhere between $9MM and $10MM of cap space to re-sign Lindholm and Rakell.
At this moment, the Ducks have around $7.5MM in available space according to Cap Friendly; meaning they will need to free up an additional $2MM to $3MM. It’s long been suggested Anaheim could move one of their other defensemen – Cam Fowler has been mentioned frequently – if needed, and they do have five on the roster – not counting Lindholm – slated to earn upwards of $3MM in 2016-17. The Ducks also boast enough young defensive depth in Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour to make the hypothetical loss of a veteran blue liner manageable.
Detroit has long been thought to be in the market for a top-four blue liner and has been linked to Fowler in the past. However it must be noted that the Ducks wouldn’t appear to be interested in taking back much, if any salary in a trade. Detroit is currently over the cap – though placing Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale on LTIR would bring the club within compliance – and would therefore seem a long shot to add salary without sending a contract back in the exchange.
Boston is another club who could use some help on the back end. They have enough room under the cap ceiling but may rather elect to see if some of their younger defenders evolve into top-four options as opposed to swinging a deal for an expensive veteran.
A wild card might come in the form of New Jersey, who could conceivably be interested in bringing in more blue line depth even after inking Kyle Quincey to a one-year contract earlier this week. The Devils have plenty of cap space and created a void on the back end earlier in the offseason in the Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson trade. Plus it’s interesting to note Devils GM Ray Shero was running things in Pittsburgh when the Penguins drafted Simon Despres in the first round and perhaps Shero would be interested in reuniting with another of his former charges. Shedding Despres’ $3.7MM cap charge would free up the needed space for the Ducks to re-sign both Lindholm and Rakell, though the notion of trading Sespres is purely speculative.