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Hampus Lindholm signs contract with Ducks

Restricted free agent defenseman gets six years, reported $31.5 million

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Defenseman Hampus Lindholm wanted nothing more than to come back to the Anaheim Ducks and play with the same core group he has competed with for the past three seasons. When he finally signed a six-year contract Thursday, it was with the caveat that core remained intact. 

Lindholm wanted to make sure no one would have to leave that group because of him. 

"It was good this way because now I can play and they didn't have to move anyone," Lindholm, 22, said. "We still have the same team, which is really good because I think we have a real strong back end and have the guys left from the core group, so it's going to be an exciting year."

Financial terms were not released, but TSN reported the contract is worth $31.5 million with an average annual value of $5.25 million.

It took Lindholm, a restricted free agent, and the Ducks eight games into this season to come to terms on a contract. After his close friend and roommate in Orange County, center Rickard Rakell, agreed to terms with Anaheim two weeks ago, the pressure was on Lindholm to do the same. 

Ducks general manager Bob Murray said it was one of the toughest contracts he has ever worked on. 

"We wanted to get it at a fair number for the organization so we could try to move forward with this group as best we can," Murray said. "I wanted to give this group another shot and I'm going to do everything in my power to keep it that way."

Though the Ducks will get some relief under the NHL salary cap by moving defenseman Simon Despres to long-term injured reserve, the signing of Lindholm puts them right at the cap. Murray had the permission of owners Henry and Susan Samueli to spend more than usual. To Murray, it was money that needed to be spent in order to keep a player he views as one of the top young defensemen in the League. 

"I did everything we could to get him signed at a fair price," Murray said. "He's a good, young hockey player that's only going to get better, and if he keeps developing the way he is, he has a great future ahead of him. It solidifies this organization is what it does. It was a tough negotiation, but that's the business part of it. I'm happy and will try to get him here as quick as I can."

Still in Sweden waiting for his visa, Lindholm hopes to be with the Ducks by next week. He played for Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and has been skating with a Swedish Elite team. He is confident his conditioning level is high enough that he will be able to play right away. 

Lindholm is a smooth-skating, mobile, puck-moving defenseman. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he's isn't afraid to use his size to his advantage. Last season, he had 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and was plus-7 in 80 games. In his three-year NHL career, he has 92 points (23 goals, 69 assists) in 236 games.

"I've seen him from the press box and I've seen a big, solid thick kid that plays the new game," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "He joins the rush, he's a big, strong defender, he can play the point on the power play and you can use him in a lot of different situations. And that bodes well for fitting into our core group."

"It was kind of perfect that way that we got to keep the team we had last year, too," Lindholm said. "I wanted to stay the whole time, and now it's good we got that done and kept the core group. I've played with Sami and [Cam] Fowler and all those guys for a long time now. I feel we work well together. It's exciting that we have the same team basically as last year."

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