Ducks GM won't let Lindholm, Manson, Rakell 'walk out the door free'
It appears Anaheim Ducks rookie general manager Pat Verbeek has a plan in place for three key pending free agents: Sign them to extensions or trade them.
Forward Rickard Rakell and defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson have generated plenty of buzz ahead of the trade deadline. All three will be UFAs at season's end, so Verbeek will have some decisions to make.
"I think going into this, I'm looking at it like we could make the playoffs, we could miss the playoffs," Verbeek told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. "At the end of the day, there's no guarantee I can get those three free agents back. I'm going to attempt to sign them, if it doesn’t happen, I just can't let them walk out the door free."
The Ducks have a fourth key pending UFA in veteran captain Ryan Getzlaf, but his contract contains a full no-movement clause. He was in the same situation at last year's deadline and wanted to stay in Anaheim.
Verbeek reportedly began extension talks with Lindholm's camp last week. The 28-year-old Swede would arguably be the biggest trade chip of the three. The 6-foot-4 shutdown defender has recorded 20 points and averaged 22:42 of ice time in 53 games this season. Lindholm's cap hit is $5.205 million.
There's been no word of extension talks with Manson's camp, and the Ducks were reportedly open to trading him last season. The 6-foot-3 right-handed defenseman has registered only seven points in 43 games this season, but he brings the type of snarl and grit that teams covet come playoff time. The 30-year-old carries a $4.1-million cap hit.
Rakell, a two-time 30-goal scorer, is having a second consecutive down year by his standards. The winger has tallied 14 goals and 11 assists in 45 games. The 28-year-old's cap hit is $3.789 million.
"We've got a game plan, and we'll see if we can execute it over the next three weeks and in the next four months leading to free agency," Verbeek added.
The Ducks started off the season hot but currently sit sixth in the Pacific Division and 11th in the Western Conference.