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Anaheim Ducks face tough offseason RFA decisions

ANAHEIM, Calif. –  The focus for defenseman Hampus Lindholm is on the ice. Ask him a question about his contract and the pending restricted free agent points to controlling only what he can control. 

“At the end of the day I just want to play hockey,” Lindholm said. “Whenever (a new contract) happens it’s going to happen. It’s not something I’m thinking about right now. Whenever that conversation starts I’ll deal with that then.”

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One day after Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray indicated he doesn’t want to be as liberal as before in giving out long-term contracts or no-trade clauses to his pending restricted free agents, Lindholm still believes everything will work out and he’ll get the contract he deserves.

“I think any player in the league wants security. Whenever we start talking I’ll have to see my options and whatever they want to do with me and what their plans for me are and my own plans for myself,” Lindholm said. “I can’t start talking about something that hasn’t happened yet. Whenever stuff starts going in the right direction I’ll think what my plans are and then I’ll know my place.”

Lindholm is probably the most pressing RFA position player contract Murray needs to complete. The slick 22-year-old Swede is a budding all-situations star who averaged 22:00 per-game and notched 28 points in 80 games. He just finished his entry-level contract.

The other two are defenseman Sami Vatanen and forward Rickard Rakell. 

The 24-year-old Vatanen is a swift skater and an excellent minute-crunching (21:19 per-game) offensive (nine goals, 29 assists) defenseman, but he’ll likely demand a major raise from his two-year $2.525 million contract. Rakell, 22, broke out this year with 20 goals in 72 games but was derailed near the end of the season because of an appendectomy. He’s at the end of his entry-level contract.

If the Ducks are looking to change course to try to make improvements after losing their fourth straight Game 7 at home, both Vatanen and Rakell are more chips Murray could use to add a different piece.

Both said they preferred to stay in Anaheim, but understand it’s not their choice.  

“I mean I really hope I can stay here. I really enjoyed it so far and am really motivated to do more stuff with this organization, so I’m just hoping it is going to work out,” Rakell said.

Added Vatanen, “I hope at some point before this next season I have a contract somewhere. I would like it to be here.” 

Rakell was asked about Murray’s thoughts on long-term contracts and again noted he wants to be in Anaheim for many years to come. 

“I enjoy it here and I think we do have the potential to do big things here, so obviously I want to be here for a long time,” Rakell said. “It’s not really up to me so we will see what happens and hope for the best.” 

Murray said that he’s open all different options based on his budget moving forward, but he hasn’t decided exactly how to plot the course with his RFAs yet. This also includes goaltender Frederik Andersen – arguably his biggest offseason trade piece. 

"To change some things, some people are going to get moved,” Murray said. "You’re going to have to change money around, it what you’re going to do. My budget is my budget. As I’ve said before, I have no problem with that. Our revenues were up a little bit this year, so I get a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I don’t think the [salary] cap is going to move [much], which could be very favorable to us, except we’ve got a bunch of guys to sign. It’s going to take a lot of work and decisions on who to keep and who not to keep."

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

 

 

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