While there will be bigger names like Claude Giroux and Jakob Chychrun (if his knee injury proves to be minor) out there for the Boston Bruins in the next week leading up to the NHL trade deadline, don’t sleep on the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks aren’t absolutely in “wait until next year” mode at this point sitting just four points out of a playoff spot with roughly six weeks left in the regular season, but new Ducks GM Pat Verbeek made it clear that they weren’t going to let expiring contracts go for nothing either.
“I think going into this, I’m looking at it like we could make the playoffs, we could miss the playoffs,” said Verbeek to The Athletic a couple of weeks ago. “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.’’
Enter Josh Manson, Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm into the conversation from a Boston Bruins perspective. Both Rakell and Lindholm are at the end of long six-year contracts with the Ducks approaching unrestricted free agency, and the 30-year-old Manson is at the end of his contract as well.
There had been some whispers about a possible Bruins deal brewing with the Ducks that involved Jakob Zboril earlier this season, but that was obviously dashed once the young Bruins defensemen went down with a season-ending injury.
It should also be noted that Anaheim scouts have had a pretty consistent presence at the TD Garden for Bruins games over the last month or two.
Rackell is a right winger that absolutely could slide into a top-6 role should the Bruins deal Jake DeBrusk in the next couple of days, and Lindholm would be a great left-shot add on the back end for a B’s team that needs to upgrade.
The 28-year-old Rakell is on pace to top 20 goals this season and has averaged 20 goals per season over the last seven years while being versatile enough to play center or right wing. The 28-year-old Lindholm’s numbers have been down the last couple of years just like everybody across the board for the Ducks, but he’s still on pace for seven goals and 30 points while averaging more than 22 minutes of ice time per game. He’s 6-foot-3, 210-pounds and would make a strong matching pair with Charlie McAvoy that would allow the rest of Boston’s defensive left side to slot into more manageable roles for them.
Even the gritty, hardnosed 6-foot-4, 225-pound Manson would be a strong add for a Boston Bruins team that should be looking to get a little meaner on the back end. The good news is that the Bruins and Ducks have some strong recent history as trade partners as well after Boston dealt for both Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie in the last few years while getting Anaheim to take on the end of David Backes’ onerous contract as well.
It may take some affordable NHL players under contract, prospects like Mason Lohrei, Urho Vaakanainen or Jack Studnicka, and it certainly would take a first-round pick to unearth a player like Lindholm even as a rental, but presumably the Boston Bruins would be invested in resigning a player like that they absolutely need on their current roster.