Among the many free agents that the Anaheim Ducks need to decide whether to re-sign or not, is 23-year-old Rickard Rakell.
The Ducks drafted Rakell with the 30th pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. He is a physical forward who can play center and right-wing, and is coming off his first 20 goal season.
Al Jensen from NHL Central Scouting had this to say about Rakell before he was drafted, “He’s a good energy guy with a good work ethic and hustle. He forechecks hard, he bangs and is very responsible defensively. I really like his upside. He’s one of those guys who the coach ca
n throw out there and know what you’re going to get. He has great balance and good skills and is physical. I can see him having an impact in the (NHL) two or three years down the road.”
Rakell did not play a full season in the NHL until the 2014-15 season when he played 71 games for the Ducks and recorded 9 goals and 22 assists. He also finished the season with a +6 rating.
Rakell’s entry level contract is up this summer when July 1 hits and Anaheim will have to make a decision quick on his status with the team going forward, as they do with their many other upcoming potential free agents. Rickard is sure to whip up some interest in the RFA market.
Rickard Rakell is still young and his career trajectory is only going up. His promising season is only the beginning for the future star.
However, Rakell is not a star yet, so he will not, and shouldn’t be, offered an outstanding big money contract or one with a long-term. The best idea would be to do the exact opposite by easily transferring him from his entry-level contract to a short-term, fair money deal. This will allow Rakell to work for his next contract and to showcase his play to make sure management makes that right decision.
Comparable Contract Situation
A similar situation came up last offseason when the Ottawa Senators extended the contract of Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad was drafted the same year as Rakell, but has had a little more early career success and played his first NHL season 2 seasons (Zibanejad played the full 2012-13 lockout season for the Sens) before Rakell’s first full year.
Zibanejad and Rakell’s ‘15-’16 seasons were comparable with Zibanejad only scoring 1 goal and 8 points more than Rakell. Zibanejad played 9 more games than Rakell.
Mika Zibanejad’s contract extension last offseason was for 2 years for a total of $5.250 million. He made $2 million this season and will make the other $3.250 million next season.
What Should the Ducks Offer Rakell?
It would make sense for Rakell and his agent to use Zibanejad’s extension as a benchmark. Ultimately, Rakell won’t make that money but should be able to pull a 2 year, $4 million deal. If the Ducks want to be cautious they could offer a 1 year deal for $2 million, any less money per year would be an insult to what Rakell has done and what he is working towards.
If Bob Murray doesn’t get on top of signing Rakell soon, he could see some offer sheets rolling in for the young forward.