Pat Verbeek took over as GM of the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 3 but he's already facing a big decision regarding three key players.
Defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson and right wing Rickard Rakell are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. With the March 21 trade deadline looming and his club jockeying for a Western Conference wild-card berth, Verbeek must decide if he'll sign them to contract extensions or move them by deadline day.
In an interview with The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, Verbeek made his position clear. “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.”
LeBrun stated Verbeek has started contract talks with the Lindholm camp. There's no indication whether discussions have begun with Manson and Rakell. LeBrun's colleague Eric Stephens believes Rakell, 28, would have value in the trade market as a secondary scorer.
The 30-year-old Manson has battled injuries in recent years. He remains sidelined by an injured finger which could dampen his trade value.
Lindholm, 28, would garner the most attention. A skillful blueliner with a left-hand shot who logs over 22 minutes per game, he's reached 20 points this season for the eighth time in his nine-year NHL career.
TSN's Darren Dreger recently included Lindholm among the defensemen the Toronto Maple Leafs could target to replace sidelined Jake Muzzin. The Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers could also be in the market for a top-four left-side rearguard.
Rakell, meanwhile, could draw interest from playoff contenders seeking a second-line right winger. The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins could be among the suitors.