What do you want first, Anaheim Ducks fans: the good news or the bad news?
The good news: General manager Bob Murray has freed up more precious salary cap space, which he will need in order to sign restricted free agent Hampus Lindholm.
More good news: The Ducks, who dropped their first four games out of the gate, have rebounded with consecutive wins over Philadelphia and Vancouver, bumping them back into the middle of the Pacific Division pack.
Even more good news: Murray and his top-pair defenceman have narrowed the gap in negotiations to approximately $250,000 per season on a six-year deal, according to multiple reports.
The bad news: That cap relief is only temporary and has arrived at the expense of Simon Despres’ health. Sidelined with what is believed to be concussion symptoms, the defenceman has been placed on long-term injured reserve, giving the cap-crunched Murray an additional $3.376 million he could use to lure Lindholm back from Sweden.
More bad news: The stalemate between Murray and Lindholm, who is represented by Claude Lemieux, has lasted throughout training camp and nearly two weeks into the season. Murray reportedly wants to keep Lindholm for less than what Rasmus Ristolainen signed for in Buffalo ($5.4 million cap hit), while Lemieux is pushing for slightly above that mark.
“You have a younger player and you can’t keep him down forever,” Lemieux recently told the National Post. “Now there’s a motivation for these blue-chip young players who have proven themselves for two, three years, that they can play a major role.”
Even more bad news: The Lindholm trade rumours, which had previously been shifted elsewhere (mostly toward fellow top-four blueliner Cam Fowler), kicked up over the weekend — though neither side has publicly talked trade.
So the game of chicken between Murray and Lindholm continues, and could well drive forward until Dec. 1 — the only tangible deadline here.
If that date passes and RFAs Lindholm and Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba remain unsigned, they will be ineligible to participate in the 2016-17 NHL season.
“There’s definitely motivation from both sides to try and get a deal done,” Lemieux said.