Lost in the shuffle of the Expansion Roster Freeze Deadline earlier today, the Anaheim Ducks announced that they agreed to an extension with restricted free agent forward Nicolas Kerdiles prior to the afternoon deadline. The new deal for the young winger is for one year at $650K, the league minimum, and is a two-way contract. The 23-year-old will again be a restricted free agent next summer.
Kerdiles, a 2012 second-round pick from the U.S. National Development Team, finally made his NHL debut in 2016-17 after two years of college hockey at the University of Wisconsin and two full seasons in the AHL. While Kerdiles skated in just one regular season game for the Ducks, he was given the much bigger role of suiting up for four playoff games as well. Kerdiles recorded his first NHL point in the Ducks’ final game of the season, a Game Six loss to the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Finals. Kerdiles likely would have played in more NHL games if it wasn’t for his injury struggles, which also limited him to just 27 regular season games with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. However, Kerdiles was back at full strength in the AHL playoffs and was a point-per-game performer in his eight contests.
While Ducks fans are likely happy to see the news regarding Kerdiles, a popular local player, it is important to remember that nothing is set in stone until the expansion process has run its course. The timing of Kerdiles extension, much like those of Edmonton’s Jujhar Khaira, Montreal’s Charles Hudon, and Vancouver’s Erik Gudbranson in recent days, is certainly suspicious. It would be one thing if these players were all guaranteed to be protected by their teams, but instead they are all very much fringe players when it comes to putting together protection lists. If these players are exposed, new contracts will only increase their odds of being selected, taking pressure off of the Vegas Golden Knights, who must hit a quota of 20 players with contract term in the draft. Could these signings, particularly that of Kerdiles, whose team is known to be negotiating a side deal with the Knights, be part of a bigger strategy? It certainly seems like a strong possibility. There will be a better idea in the morning when protection lists are announced at 9:00 AM CT and of course we will know for sure when the Expansion Draft arrives on Wednesday. Until then, Anaheim fans can celebrate another year of Kerdiles (they hope).