USATSI_9231251_154158418_lowresThe Anaheim Ducks have signed defenceman Hampus Lindholm to a six-year, $31.5 million contract.

“I’m really happy to be back in Anaheim,” Lindholm said. “That’s where I’ve been all my career. This is the only time when we had time to sign me, and we could still keep some players. It was kind of perfect that way to keep the team that we had last year.”

Lindholm sat out training camp and missed the first eight regular season games as a restricted free agent, so it’s good for both team and player to get this deal done. The idea was to hammer out a long-term contract, but budgetary concerns got in the way and the Ducks had to modulate their desires with reality.

Anaheim was able to slip the Lindholm deal under the salary cap by putting centre Nate Thompson and defenceman Simon Despres on the long-term injured reserve list. This sets up the necessity of moving another player when either player returns from injury, but that’s a bridge the Ducks are willing to cross when they get there.

It seems likely that the Ducks will have to trade a defenceman at some point in the near future, especially with the expansion draft in the works. The club will protect Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, while Kevin Bieksa’s no-move clause will ensure his protection as well.

The 22-year-old Swedish blueliner had 10 goals and 18 assists last season and was one of the most notable RFA holdouts to kick off the 2016-2017 season on the sidelines. He was training in Sweden and will be ready to join the Ducks after he gets his visa.

Lindholm is one of the top defencemen in the National Hockey League when it comes to possession numbers. Last season, he ranked fourth in his position for shot attempts with 346 and came in first at his position in shot attempts relative percentage with 7.5 percent. He also had a 57.8 percent Corsi rating at five-on-five.

The Ducks are currently 3-3-2, good for fourth in the Pacific Division.

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