ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For as long as trade rumors were swirling, one thing never changed for Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler: He wanted to stay.
On Saturday, Fowler agreed to what is essentially a lifetime contract, a reported eight-year, $52 million extension. He turns 26 on Dec. 5 and the new agreement starts with the 2018-19 NHL season at an average annual value of $6.5 million.
"It was never really in doubt for me," Fowler said. "Obviously California has its perks for things away from the rink. But I love the team. I love the locker room we have and we're adding a couple new pieces now.
"In terms of the core, we're still pretty much going to be pretty much the same team. That was the biggest thing that went into it, just the foundation we have in place and being able to go to the rink with these guys every day.
"All in all, it was very smooth."
Fowler helped the Ducks transition from the time after they had two Hall of Fame defensemen -- Chris Pronger (traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009) and Scott Niedermayer (retired in 2010) -- to what is now arguably one of the deepest groups in the League. The process started when Fowler dropped to No. 12 in the 2010 NHL Draft.
He will play the final season of a five-year contract worth $4 million annually.
"It definitely takes both sides to be committed for something to happen," Fowler said. "I'm very thankful that ownership and management believe in me and wanted me to be around for eight more, nine more years."
Anaheim reached the Western Conference Final last season, losing to the Nashville Predators in six games. Following that, the Ducks did not lose any of their top four defensemen in the NHL Expansion Draft: Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson or Sami Vatanen.
The Ducks did trade 21-year-old defenseman Shea Theodore to the Vegas Golden Knights, but despite his upside, he had been passed by Brandon Montour on the depth chart.
Fowler said it hasn't always been easy "dealing with that stuff," referencing trade rumors.
Video: ANA@MIN: Fowler steals puck and finishes pretty SHG
"People know we have a lot of talent on the back end, so there's going to be things that come up from time to time just because the amount of quality players we have on defense," he said. "Once I realized that, and if other teams are calling about you, it's not all bad.
"I definitely wanted to go out and prove this season that I could be the player Anaheim drafted and stuck with and that I could play to the potential, not only that they thought I could, but for me personally, I thought I could too. That was big for me. I tried to play loose, with more confidence, and I think things worked out in my favor.
"Now I couldn't be happier to be in the position I'm in."
Fowler had 39 points (11 goals, 28 assists) in 80 games last season. The 11 goals were an NHL career high. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 13 games, despite missing the first round with an injured knee.
Early confidence created momentum for Fowler last season.
"I saw a couple of pucks go in and I started to see some of the rewards of what I did in the summer," he said. "Sometimes that's all it takes as a player. Confidence goes a huge way in this game and a lot of people don't realize how easy it can slip, even for professional players."