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Fowler's big season turns into big extension with Ducks

A year ago Cam Fowler wasn't sure how long he would remain with the Ducks. Now, he's locked in for another eight years and the Ducks D corps is intact longterm.

This time last year, Cam Fowler was working out at home in suburban Detroit wondering exactly where he was going to play in the coming season. And there seemed to be a really good chance that wasn’t going to be in Anaheim. Talk about your reversals of fortune. With a year still remaining on his current deal, the Ducks got all proactive and signed Fowler to an eight-year extension worth $6.5 million per season.

And much of that has to do with how Fowler responded to the uncertainty in his life. Instead of allowing it to adversely affect his game, Fowler blossomed last season. Armed with a longer stick and a better sense of shot selection, Fowler posted a career high in goals with 11 and finished with 38 points for the Ducks. When I spoke with Fowler during the all-star break, he acknowledged that going through next season without a contract with unrestricted free agency on the horizon would likely cause something of a distraction.

“When you’re playing for a contract, I think it would be very difficult not to be thinking about that contract,” Fowler said at the time. “As professionals, you can block it out and at the end of the day it shouldn’t make a huge impact on how you play or how you approach the game, but I think it has a little bit of meaning. We all work so hard to have the opportunity for that next healthy, big contract, that’s what we’re all working for. There could be a little pressure that comes with that, but that’s part of the business.”

Well, Fowler now has that healthy, big contract that will take him past his 34th birthday. And both he and the Ducks have good reason to believe that he can still be a productive player for quite a while. Working with skills coach and former NHLer Pat Peake, Fowler changed his approach this season. It was strange because he took far more shots than he has in previous years, but was selective about the ones he took, showing more patience at the blueline and hanging onto the puck for that split-second longer until a better shooting lane opened up. The result was that Fowler registered 186 shots last season, which was a career high.

As a result of the Fowler extension, the Ducks have their top three defensemen – Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen and Fowler – committed for the next three seasons. The next challenge will be to make sure Josh Manson, who became a restricted free agent today, joins them on that long-term list.



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