The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm.
Even though they have taken a big step forward this season the Anaheim Ducks are still facing quite a fight just to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are almost certainly going to be sellers before the trade deadline (they should be, anyway) and have a few potential unrestricted free agents (Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson, and Rickard Rakell) that should get a lot of attention.
We already looked at Rickard Rakell and his value, but their most marketable player might be veteran defenseman Hampus Lindholm.
Lindholm is in the final year of a six-year, $31.5 million contract that carries a $5.2 million salary cap hit. Given his overall ability, that is a pretty good price and the Ducks should have no problem helping out a potential buyer by retaining some of his remaining salary cap number to increase the list of potential buyers and maybe squeeze a little bit of a better return should they trade him.
At his peak Lindholm was an outstanding top-pairing defender that could do a little bit of everything well. He could chip in offensively, move the puck, strong in his own end, and just a very well rounded player.
He is still that player today. Just maybe a lesser version of that. That can still be helpful for a contender looking for an upgrade on defense for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What the return might look like
There should be no reason why Anaheim could not get a first round pick, or comparable player/prospect, plus another decent prospect for Lindholm, especially if they utilize some of their salary cap flexibility to retain some of his remaining salary cap number for this season. Lindholm may not be a true No. 1 defenseman anymore, but he can still play a strong top-four role and that should be worth a first-round pick and prospect to a contender.
The most logical landing spots
• Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues
These are all contenders in the market for a defense upgrade, all of whom could have a use for Lindholm on their blue line.
With Jake Muzzin‘s status uncertain at the moment given his latest concussion, the Maple Leafs could definitely use a defense upgrade (and could even if/when Muzzin is able to return). Muzzin remaining on the LTIR could absolutely give Toronto the flexibility to add Lindholm to its blue line.
The Blues have been in the market for a defense upgrade since the offseason and absolutely need more help on the left side. Lindholm would be a significant upgrade.
Florida is the wild card. They are reportedly very interested in Lindholm and have the type of team that could absolutely win it all this season. They should be all-in on trying to make their team as strong as possible, especially in the Eastern Conference where there are not going to be any easy playoff series. The problem for the Panthers: They have no first-or second-round picks to deal from.
Wild Card team: Anaheim Ducks
As in, re-signing with the Ducks before the trade deadline and removing him from the market. The Ducks have almost no players signed long-term (and that is especially true on defense) and Lindholm can still play at a fairly high level and is one of their best all-around defensemen. The Ducks have progressed enough this season, with a really promising young core in place, that the playoffs should not be considered impossible next season. If you think that is a possibility, there is nothing wrong with keeping Lindholm and trying to re-sign him.
Spot I want to see just for fun: Calgary Flames
The Flames have rapidly become one of the best teams in the NHL and are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in the Western Conference. They already made one significant addition by adding Tyler Toffoli and could further strengthen their already strong defense with a Lindholm addition. Beating Colorado is not going to be easy and I like the idea of a team just going all in when the opportunity presents itself.
NHL Trade Deadline prediction
The St. Louis Blues seem like a great fit here. A playoff team that is sneaking under the radar a little bit and could be a really tough matchup as long as the goaltending is there for them. Lindholm would be a nice upgrade on their defense and well worth a first-round pick and prospect. The Ducks should absolutely retain some salary to get a slightly better prospect back.