The first week of Ducks training camp is in the books and defenseman Hampus Lindholm is still without a contract.
While Anaheim’s other representatives from the World Cup of Hockey like Jakob Silfverberg and John Gibson have started to trickle in to camp, Lindholm is a no show, instead opting to return to his native country to train with a former team after Team Sweden was eliminated from the just-completed tournament.
Now that Lindholm has missed the opening first days of camp and some exhibition games, there’s concern over whether he’ll now miss the beginning of the regular season, which starts for the Ducks on Oct. 13 in Dallas.
But what exactly is causing the stalemate between the Swedish defenseman and the Ducks? There’s a few different factors in play, the first of which involves Anaheim’s salary cap situation.
According to capfriendly.com, the Ducks currently have a cap hit of $65.4 million and have $7.52 million of cap space. On top of this, Lindholm isn’t their only player missing from camp right now because of their contractual situation. The team also needs to give fellow Swede Rickard Rakell a new deal because he, too, is a restricted free agent.
It’s safe to say that the team’s current cap space is not enough to get both players the contracts they’ve earned, so the Ducks are going to need to trim salary. And according to reports, that’s currently what they’re doing now. Blake Price of TSN is reporting that the Ducks are currently in trade talks in an effort to free up more cap space for the contracts of Rakell and Lindholm.
Add in the factor that Anaheim is already over their self-imposed budget and many general managers like to have extra cap space in case they wish to acquire reinforcements at the trade deadline for a long playoff run (something the Ducks are expected to go on this season), and it quickly becomes apparent that General Manager Bob Murray essentially has his hands tied until he can swing a deal to move salary.
There’s also the possibility that the Ducks are still deliberating with Lindholm’s camp over what exactly is fair for him under a new deal.
According to Mike Halford of NBC Sports, details of the negotiations between the two sides are starting to surface and Lindholm is looking for $6 million over the span of eight seasons.
It’s a very large commitment, even for an emerging star on defense, especially when you factor in that his annual cap hit would be higher than any other defenseman on the roster and only behind the likes of Corey Perry ($8.625 million), Ryan Getzlaf ($8.25 million), and Ryan Kesler ($6.875 million annual cap hit).
The report did not mention how far apart the Ducks and Lindholm are in negotiations, although it did mention that there’s a “feeling” the team is likely closer to striking a deal with Rakell than Lindholm.
Halford also notes that the Ducks don’t want to “drag feet” much longer, which is understandable. To say the team got off to a sluggish start last season is an understatement and they can ill afford to experience that again this season.
New head coach Randy Carlyle needs to have his full roster available to him on opening night and they need to start making hay in the Pacific Division standings right away, While they fully bounced back from their very slow start last season by going on a tear through the second half of their schedule, to do that two years in a row would be a difficult feat.
If Murray isn’t able to get Lindholm under contract before they season starts they still have the likes of young defenseman Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler (whose name has been tossed around in trade rumors) and the veteran presence of Kevin Bieksa, but Lindholm is on the rise and is expected to be a staple of Anaheim’s defensive unit this season and in the immediate future.
If the organization is unable to get him to camp before the starts it would be very simply be a bad way to start what’s supposed to be a fresh start for the Ducks.