Rickard Rakell returns to the Ducks after a prolonged contract negotiation

Rickard Rakell plays for the Ducks against New Jersey Devils on March 14.
Rickard Rakell plays for the Ducks against New Jersey Devils on March 14.
(Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Rickard Rakell stepped out into a hallway outside the Ducks’ locker room wearing his skates and a smile that said he was happy to be back in familiar surroundings.

It wasn’t quite like the first day of school, but he did catch the media up on how he spent his summer during the weeks and months leading up to his re-signing with the the Ducks following a prolonged contract negotiation.

Part of it was spent skating with his cousin’s junior team in his home Sweden, made up of 14-year-olds who were quietly in awe of the NHL forward.


“They were also super-excited and shy, so they didn’t say much,” Rakell said. “I think I was more scared of them.”

Anaheim’s lineup will be scarier to opponents once it gets Rakell back. He secured his work visa the same morning he flew in Monday and took part in an optional skate before the Ducks played Nashville.

But Rakell has yet to get in a full practice at NHL speed and physicality.

“I would say it’s conditioning now,” Rakell said. “I haven’t skated with contact yet or anything. As soon as I can practice with the team a little bit and do a little bit more battle drills, I think that’s when I will get the real feel for how I’m feeling.”

Last month Rakell was recovering from surgery to repair scar tissue related to an appendectomy from the end of last season. That further delayed the contract negotiations, which ended Oct.14 with a six-year extension worth $3.8 million annually.

Rakell is an important cog in the Ducks’ offense. He scored 20 goals last season and can play center or wing. His return to Anaheim comes as Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf deals with an upper-body injury after he was struck on the forearm by the puck in Tuesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said Getzlaf will be a game-time decision for Nashville. Goalie Jonathan Bernier is day-to-day with an upper-body muscle injury also from Tuesday, the Ducks said. Dustin Tokarski was recalled and will backup John Gibson.


Rakell looked leaner and sounded eager.

“I want to be as close to 100% as possible before I step into a physical game,” he said. “I can’t say [the return] time right now, but I wish I could come back as quick as possible.”