BOSTON (AP) — Hampus Lindholm got to experience the playoffs in each of his first five NHL seasons. Then he watched from the outside for the past three years.
So when the longtime Anaheim Ducks defenceman saw an opportunity to sign on with a Bruins team that reached the postseason almost every year, he was willing to make a long-term commitment.
“They always have that winning mindset,” Lindholm said on Sunday, a day after he was traded to Boston and hours after agreeing to an eight-year, $52 million contract extension.
“They find ways to get in the mix and compete,” said Lindholm, a 2012 first-round draft pick who had played his entire career in Anaheim. “I’ve missed it the last three years. There’s nothing more fun. I can only imagine playing in Boston. I’m ready to go to battle.”
A 28-year-old Swede who figures to slot in on Boston’s No. 2 defensive pairing, Lindholm was acquired from the Ducks on Saturday night for a first-round draft pick this year and second-rounders in 2023 and ’04. Boston also sent defencemen John Moore and Urho Vaakanainen to Anaheim.
The move for the top blue liner on the market heading into Monday’s NHL trade deadline strengthens the Bruins’ defence as they make a playoff push. Through Saturday’s games, Boston had 81 points, good for fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
“We’re a better team today,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He has a legitimate Top 4 resume in the National Hockey League. (He’s) playoff tested, still young. He’s a real good add for us.”
While Anaheim has missed the playoffs three straight years — finishing last last season — and is on pace to make it four in a row, Boston hasn’t sat out since 2016. They reached the Stanley Cup Final two years ago for the third time in a decade and won it all in 2011.
But the team finished with the NHL’s best record in 2020 and lost in the second round. Last year, Boston again lost in the second round after injuries left them weakened on defence.
“Hopefully, we’re going to stay healthy and we won’t test the depth,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said on Sunday. “Adding Hampus was a big part of that.”
Lindholm also figures to remain a part of the Bruins defensive core that also includes Charlie McAvoy, who is signed through 2030, and Brandon Carlo, who is locked up until 2027.
“Obviously, Boston is showing who they think of me as a player, a lot of trust,” Lindholm said. “That’s most NHL players’ dream.”
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Lindholm has five goals and 17 assists in 61 games this season. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound defenceman has 57 goals and 165 assists in a nine-year NHL career.
Boston also acquired minor-league defenceman Kodie Curran in the trade; the Ducks will pay half of Lindholm’s salary this season.