So with that in mind, consider what GM Bob Murray said yesterday, in the wake of signing goalie-of-the-future John Gibson to a three-year extension.
Murray sent out a signal Monday that he hopes some of those impending free agents will pick up on. The Ducks want you for the long haul but there’s an internal salary structure to work within.
“A lot of our players in the past — and they’ve been here for a long time — have taken a hometown discount, haircuts, whatever word you want to use,” Murray said. “But they want to play here. And I want young players who want to stay and be part of this organization.
“It’s not a bad place to play.”
Murray said this while confirming talks are already underway with Lindholm, the 21-year-old blueliner that looks to be a star in the making.
Which begs the question — how will Anaheim afford these guys?
Next year is when three of Murray’s more, ahem, questionable contracts could come home to roost: Ryan Kesler‘s extension ($6.875M cap hit), Kevin Bieksa‘s extension ($4M) and year three of the Clayton Stoner deal, in which Stoner — who was basically Anaheim’s sixth d-man in the playoffs last year — makes $3.25M.
Per war-on-ice.com, Anaheim already has nearly $50 million committed to the payroll for next season and, as the Register points out, is working under an internal cap. In addition to Lindholm, Andersen and Vatanen, the likes of Rickard Rakell, Simon Despres and Jiri Sekac also need new contracts.
It’s a strong possibility Murray offers bridge deals for most, if not all, of his key RFAs — the club’s had success with this strategy, like last year with Jakob Silfverberg — but there is risk involved; if a player like Lindholm takes the bridge and continues to progress, his asking price gets way higher once the bridge deal expires (and we’re seeing more teams try and work against this, like Edmonton, which took a calculated risk in giving Oscar Klefbom a seven-year deal.)
For now, though, Murray’s focused on keeping RFA negotiations simply moving in the right direction.
“I’ll work at them one at a time,” Murray said. “That’s all I can do.”