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Ducks overpack for season-opening five-game trip

Ducks overpack for season-opening five-game trip
Defenseman Hampus Lindholm, left, and the Ducks are trying to work out a deal worth around $6 million per season. (Harry How / Getty Images)

“Up in the air” took on two meanings as the Ducks flew Tuesday for a season-opening five-game trip.

The Ducks packed two extra defensemen and the requisite spare forward, largely because they need available bodies for such a challenging start  to the season. Most teams carry seven defensemen but the Ducks will have eight and 13 forwards when they open Thursday at Dallas.

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"Right now that's the way we're set up to go," Coach Randy Carlyle said. "We know that with the 41 games in [the first 86] days it's going to be a challenge to keep everybody healthy."

The Ducks remained up in the air with the contract situations of unsigned restricted free-agent center Rickard Rakell and defenseman Hampus Lindholm. Lindholm and the Ducks are seeking common ground on a contract worth around $6 million per season. A precedent was set Tuesday when the Buffalo Sabres re-signed defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to a six-year contract worth a reported $5.4 million per season, a deal that could put traction on Lindholm’s negotiations.

Ducks General Manager Bob Murray typically does not comment on ongoing contract negotiations. Lindholm and Rakell are among the last restricted free agents in the NHL, and there is some speculation that Rakell hasn’t fully recovered from surgery last month to remove scar tissue in his stomach. 

"We haven't seen him so we really don't know how far he is away from playing," Murray wrote in an email. "The sooner we get our doctors to look at him, I will be able to answer that question."

In the meantime, the Ducks will fill the void with rookies. Defenseman Jacob Larsson, right wing Nick Sorensen and left wing Joseph Cramarossa made the opening 23-man roster and likely will make their NHL debuts at some point on the trip.

"This is it," Carlyle said. "This is the big show. We're going to dance now."

Cramarossa impressed after he played in what Carlyle called difficult situations, sometimes in road exhibitions. He is one their more experienced prospects, having played nearly three full seasons in the minors.

"We thought he earned the opportunity," Caryle said.

Tough trip

Four of the five games are opponents’ home openers, so the Ducks will have to take the crowd out of energized buildings in Dallas, the New York Islanders, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

"We'll be put in the fire right away," left wing Andrew Cogliano said. "It's going to force everyone to get ready in terms of mentally and physically, and individually more than anything. I think if you're individually prepared, all the games could come together pretty nicely in terms of the game plan."

Etc.

Center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry were on the same line with left wing Nick Ritchie for most of practice as the Ducks continued to tinker with their lines. … Center Nate Thompson (Achilles' tendon) was put on long-term injured reserve. Center Michael Sgarbossa was assigned to San Diego and goalie Yann Danis was released from his professional tryout contract.

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