The Anaheim Ducks are keeping busy in the slowest part of the summer, finally reaching terms on an extension with restricted free agent forward Ondrej Kase. The team has announced a three-year deal with the young right winger, who set career highs across the board last season. Beat writer Eric Stephens adds that the contract carries a $2.6MM AAV for a total of $7.8MM over the three-year term.
Kase, 22, has developed well beyond anyone’s estimations since he was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Draft. He not only debuted in the NHL just two years after being drafted, but played in 53 games with the Ducks in 2016-17. He followed that up with a sophomore campaign last season that more than doubled his production over 66 games and showcased a more well-rounded skill set. Kase scored 20 goals, tied for second-most on the Ducks, and totaled 38 points overall, fifth-best for Anaheim. Additionally, he led all Ducks forwards but Ryan Getzlaf in plus/minus. Perhaps most impressive, Kase topped all Anaheim skaters in possession, with a 52.9 Corsi (CF%).
The Czech native has natural offensive instincts and possesses a high-end hockey IQ unbecoming of a player selected in the 200’s of the NHL Draft. Moving forward, he should continue to grow into a scoring weapon and should be given more ice time and a greater special teams role for Anaheim after last season. If Kase continues to exceed expectations, GM Bob Murray and the Ducks will be very happy to have him at such a low cap hit in two or three years. As Anaheim’s old guard – Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler – only continue to slow down, Kase looks to be a key piece of the young core coming up behind them.