According to a report from Darren Dreger, the Anaheim Ducks and restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm have a “line in the sand drawn” at an annual average value about $250K apart on a long-term extension. After going win-less in their first four games, the Ducks have climbed back to 2-3-2, but would still like to have Lindholm back on the blue line to avoid further struggles. Lindholm meanwhile is sitting out to the tune of what would be under $200K more per season after taxes, and one would think that he would be willing to bend as well. However, if the report is completely true, neither side is willing to budge from their current offers.
Lindholm is a pivotal part of Anaheim’s future on the blue line, which Dreger addressed as well, saying that they have no interest in trading him despite rumblings over the past week. Lindholm is just 22 years old, and has shown in his first three seasons in the NHL that he is a 30+ point scorer, elite puck mover, reliable in his own end, and can eat up big minutes; he’s everything you can want in a young defenseman. Playing on the Duck’s top pair last year, Lindholm established himself as the leader of a strong, deep defensive unit in Anaheim. Other teams can see this value as well, and the longer that the Ducks wait to figure out their salary cap situation and get Lindholm signed, the more likely it is that a competitor could force their hand with an offer sheet or pressure them into a trade. They also stand the risk of a standoff lasting past the December 1st deadline to sign RFA’s, in which case Lindholm could not play in 2016-17.
Whatever the result, both sides need to work toward a resolution. While many would guess that both Anaheim and Lindholm are desperate at this point, their willingness to draw a line at such a narrow margin indicates that these negotiations still have a ways to go. The longer this drags into the season, the more damage it has on the team’s play and the relationship between a supposed franchise player and the organization. The rumors will keep flowing, and if Lindholm is still unsigned come this time next month, don’t be surprised to see some major fireworks by way of a big trade or shocking offer sheet. There will surely be more to come on this topic in the coming weeks…or longer.