NHL Rumors: Ducks won’t let free agents walk, plus Rangers and J.T. Miller decision

nhl rumors
Mar 8, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) celebrates his goal with the bench during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s NHL rumors will focus on the Anaheim Ducks and the New York Rangers. Both teams are expected to be players in one way or another at the NHL Trade Deadline.

The Ducks will be coming to a crossroads soon regarding their big unrestricted free agents. They include forward Rickard Rakell, defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson. All three can walk via free agency this summer and it’s something new GM Pat Verbeek won’t let happen.

NHL Rumors: Ducks won’t let free agents walk

“I think going into this, I’m looking at it like we could make the playoffs, we could miss the playoffs,’’ Verbeek told Pierre LeBrun. “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.’’

Rakell, 28, is a right wing that is currently playing on the Ducks third line. With the emergence of Troy Terry, it has pushed the Swede down the depth chart and further away from his back-to-back 30 goal seasons in 2016/17 – 2017/18. He has 25 points in 45 games this season.

Manson, 30, has 7 points in 43 games. He’s a physical defenseman that isn’t a liability in the offensive zone. He’s in the final year of a contract with a $4.1 million cap hit and has a modified no-trade clause.

Lindholm, 28, is making $5.2 million against the cap which and was considered a top rental trade target. The big left-handed defenseman (6-4, 216) has 20 points in 53 games this season averaging top pair minutes at 22:46. Verbeek has begun contract talks with Lindholm’s agent.

Verbeek also added that he is open for anything and has a plan that goes all the way into free agency.

Related: Which players are likely to be traded

New York Rangers and J.T. Miller

NHL Rumors J.T. Miller
Jan 27, 2022; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (9) is congratulated by his team mates on his goal against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are so hot for J.T. Miller it makes you wonder why he was a throw-in when they moved Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018. Yes, the team announced a rebuild and they were looking for future assets, but Miller is exactly the type of player they should have kept.

Instead, he was jettisoned due to salary cap concerns as he was coming up on a new deal. Flash forward four years later and the Rangers may be giving up plenty of assets to acquire him.

Larry Brooks touched on the topic in his latest for Post Sports+ saying: “The Rangers need J.T. Miller, that is not up for debate. The question is: Can they get him at an affordable price?”

The Canucks have a great shot at making the playoffs and Miller is leading them there along with Thatcher Demko. Canadian teams have been hit hardest financially from the pandemic and the revenue from playoff games is probably more important than trading away their leading scorer, who still has a year left on his contract.

Vancouver isn’t going to trade him unless they get the king’s ransom they are looking for, which is said to be more than what the Sabres were asking for Jack Eichel these days. Is he really worth all that?

Unless that price comes down drastically, the Rangers should look for help elsewhere.

Miller, 28, has 60 points in 53 games this season.