San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl has emerged as an early candidate to be moved before the March trade deadline. For clubs that lose out in the bidding for Hertl, Anaheim Ducks winger Rickard Rakell could become a suitable alternative.
A rebuilding club transitioning toward younger players, the Ducks could be among this season's trade-deadline sellers. Rakell, 28, and defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson are among their pending unrestricted free agents. Of the three, Rakell seems the most likely to be shopped.
The Athletic's Eric Duhatschek observed Rakell's production dramatically tailed off since his 30-plus goal performances in 2017 and 2018. He felt the Ducks' horrible power play accounted in part for the winger managing just nine goals in 52 games last season.
Nevertheless, Duhatschek believes a bounce-back performance by Rakell could make him “the next best consolation prize” if Hertl moves on. He could also regain his scoring touch playing alongside more talented linemates on a playoff club.
Despite his reduced scoring, Rakell garnered attention leading up to last season's trade deadline. On March 10, then-TSN insider Frank Seravalli reported teams were calling Ducks general manager Bob Murray but the asking price was high. A month later, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson revealed the Ducks sought a first-round pick.
Murray could set that high price because Rakell still had a year remaining on his contract. However, he might have to lower it this season or risk losing the winger to free agency if he fails to move him on deadline day.