The Ducks have gotten a chunk of their outstanding offseason business done, signing three of their restricted free agents to extensions. The team announced deals for defensemen Simon Benoit and Urho Vaakanainen as well as for goalie Olle Eriksson Ek.
Vaakanainen, 23, received a two-year extension, the terms of which were not fully detailed in the announcement. Vaakanainen came to Anaheim as part of the mid-season Hampus Lindholm trade, and got into 14 games with the Ducks after being dealt there. Vaakanainen was the 18th overall pick at the 2017 draft and has yet to establish himself as a full-time NHL defenseman. In that limited sample with the Ducks, Vaakanainen played in nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game and got a sprinkling of ice time on both the power play and penalty kill.
Vaakanainen may never develop into the shutdown top-four force he was drafted to be, but there is hope that he can become a defense-first bottom-pairing piece in Anaheim.
Benoit, 23, is an undrafted player who got into an impressive 53 games for the Ducks last season. Benoit got a one-year, two-way deal. A hulking six-foot-three, 200-pound physical force, Benoit steadily earned coach Dallas Eakins’ trust and eventually saw time on the Ducks’ penalty kill. There isn’t much offense to Benoit’s game, and he had just five points in 53 games, but he’s got four seasons of professional hockey under his belt and should be in the mix for a similar role in Anaheim this fall.
Eriksson Ek, 23, is the brother of Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek and has been a developmental goalie project for the Ducks organization since he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 draft. Eriksson-Ek served as the backup goalie for most of the season playing for the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. He got into 26 games and went 7-15-2 with an .880 save percentage and a 3.44 goals-against-average. He got a one-year extension.