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Ducks, Rakell reach agreement on six-year deal the day after Anaheim drops opener

The Anaheim Ducks started the season without Rickard Rakell, but they won’t have to continue without him. The 23-year-old signed a six-year, $22.8-million deal with Anaheim on Friday.

Strike another off the list of remaining restricted free agents as the Anaheim Ducks have inked Rickard Rakell to a six-year deal.

The Ducks officially announced the signing of the 23-year-old center Friday afternoon, and according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie the deal that locked Rakell up will pay him an average of $3.8-million per season, or a total of $22.8-million over the lifetime of the contract. Rakell’s signing comes the day after Anaheim opened their season with a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, a game that Rakell sat out while remaining without a deal.

There had never been much doubt about whether or not the Ducks and Rakell would agree to terms, and it seemed only a matter of time before the two sides came to an agreement. Throughout the off-season, Rakell’s agent expressed that talks had been ongoing and that he believed something would get done, and Friday’s news ensures that not only a deal is done, but that Rakell won’t have to worry about a new contract for the foreseeable future.

As far as the signing goes, it’s about as good a contract as Anaheim GM Bob Murray could have asked for. The expectation was that Rakell would land a deal that almost mirrored the six-year, $24-million contract that Carolina Hurricanes youngster Victor Rask signed, but the six-year contract that the Ducks locked up Rakell to will actually afford them slightly more cap flexibility. That’s somewhat remarkable, too, given how well Rakell played in 2015-16.

After posting nine goals and 31 points in 71 games during his rookie season, Rakell jumped up to a top-line role for much of the 2015-16 season, skating alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and posting 20 goals and 43 points in 72 games. Four of those goals came with the extra man, and Rakell looked like a versatile and reliable forward in then-coach Bruce Boudreau’s system.

It’s to be seen where he fits in with new coach Randy Carlyle, but it’s clear Rakell has some chemistry with the Ducks’ top-line duo. If that’s where Rakell ends up once again, it could pay dividends for Anaheim. It could also be a failsafe for Carlyle when he needs a line to deliver something, too, as the trio posted strong numbers — scoring and possession-wise — when paired together, according to Puckalytics.

With Rakell signed, the Ducks still have one of the two remaining RFAs in the league in defenseman Hampus Lindholm, with the other being Winnipeg Jets blueliner Jacob Trouba.

Rakell’s contract doesn’t afford the Ducks any room to sign Lindholm, and Anaheim has little more than $350,000 in cap space, according to CapFriendly. However, with or without Rakell signed, the Ducks would have had a tough time inking Lindholm. Anaheim will have to make a move and ship someone out in order to afford bringing Lindholm back. That is unless Lindholm is the player they ship out, and that seems unlikely given the 22-year-old rearguard’s considerable ability.

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