One Year Later: The Hampus Lindholm and Nic Deslauriers Trades

Photo: AP

By Thomas Harrington

One year ago yesterday, the Ducks made a pair of trades. First, they sent forward Nicholas Deslauriers to the Minnesota Wild for a 2023 3rd round draft pick. Second, they traded defenseman Hampus Lindholm and minor league defenseman Kodie Curran to the Boston Bruins for defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, defenseman John Moore, a first round pick in 2022, a second round pick in 2023, and a second round pick in 2024. The Ducks retained half of Lindholm’s contract in the deal. The Ducks drafted Nathan Gaucher 22nd overall with the first round pick they received from Boston. Moore has been on injured reserve and yet to play in any games for the Ducks or Gulls.

The Ducks had originally acquired Deslauriers from the Montreal Canadiens for a 2020 fourth round pick. Montreal chose Brandon Coe with that pick. With the Ducks, Deslauriers played in 169 games across three seasons and scored 17 goals and 33 points, highlighted by a hat trick against the Ottawa Senators. However, he was more known for his fighting prowess than his scoring ability. Overall, he had 29 fights for the Ducks. In his time with Anaheim he became a fan favorite for his physical play and willingness to drop the gloves.

With the Wild, Deslauriers played in 20 regular season games, scored three goals, and had three fights. He played in five of Minnesota’s six playoff games and was scoreless. The Wild were looking to get a gritty, physical player for the playoffs and that’s exactly what they got. However, it wasn’t enough as they lost to St. Louis in the first round. Deslauriers left Minnesota as a free agent and signed a four-year deal in Philadelphia over the summer.

This is a trade that I think both teams are happy with, but Anaheim came out better overall. They traded an expiring contract and received a higher pick than what they used to originally acquire Deslauriers. The Wild knew what they were getting in Deslauriers, but he wasn’t enough to get them further in the playoffs.

The Ducks had drafted Lindholm sixth overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in the 2013-2014 season and over the next several seasons became one of the best two-way defensemen in the NHL. While he never put up the offensive numbers that are often equated with such a high pick, the Ducks were quite happy with his play through most of his time in Anaheim. However, as a team, Anaheim’s play went downhill over the past few seasons and Lindholm’s overall game wasn’t as strong as a result. Overall, Lindholm played in 582 games with the Ducks and scored 57 goals and 222 points.

Kurran originally joined the Ducks organization in the 2020-2021 season, after spending the previous four seasons playing in Europe. He had never played a game in the NHL and was brought in as organizational depth on a two-year deal after being named the MVP of the SHL. He spent his entire time in San Diego before the trade, recording seven goals and 29 points in 61 games over two seasons.

The Bruins had drafted Vaakanainen 18th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He played the following season in Finland before coming to North America for the 2018-2019 season, splitting time between the NHL and AHL, with most of it spent in Providence. The following year he only played in five NHL games, while getting over 50 in the AHL. The 2020-2021 season was disruptive for everyone, and Vaakanainen was no exception, as he played two games in the Liiga, nine games in the NHL, and 11 games in the AHL. Unfortunately, he found himself on the taxi squad for much of the season and didn’t play as much as he normally would have. Before the trade to Anaheim, he once again was splitting time between the NHL and AHL, and had appeared in a career-high 15 NHL games with the Bruins.

Moore had joined the Bruins before the 2018-2019 season as a free agent, signing a five-year deal with them. He played in 61 games for Boston that first season. The following year he split between the NHL and AHL, and then only played in five games with the Bruins in the 2020-2021 season because of injuries. Before the trade, he had played in 11 games in the AHL and seven in the NHL.

The Ducks were going to miss the playoffs, and while they did try to sign Lindholm to an extension, new GM Pat Verbeek decided it was time to move on. Verbeek offered Lindholm a five-year deal, worth more per year than what Lindholm ended up signing in Boston. However, the Bruins were willing to offer an eight-year deal while the Ducks were not, and Lindholm wanted the security of the longer contract. So he rejected Anaheim’s offer, and after Boston acquired him, he signed an eight-year deal worth $6.5 million a season. Curran and Moore were included to help balance out the number of contracts, and the Ducks essentially bought themselves an extra second round pick by taking Moore’s salary back.

Lindholm only played in 10 games with the Bruins through the end of the regular season and recorded five assists. He was scoreless in four playoff games. If Lindholm hadn’t re-signed with Boston, they’d be looking back on this deal with regret. While Lindholm wasn’t great last season, he has been phenomenal for Boston this season and some have him in the conversation for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the league. With Anaheim, his career high in points was 34. This year, he’s already recorded 44 points. He’s arguably the best defenseman on the best team in the league this year. While he likely won’t play at this pace through the length of his contract, if he does for even just the next few years, Boston will be very happy, especially if it leads to another Stanley Cup.

Curran played in 11 games for Providence, Boston’s AHL affiliate, and was scoreless. He did not re-sign with them in the offseason and is playing in the KHL this year.

With Anaheim, Vaakanainen played in 14 games to end last season and recorded two assists. This year, he’s played in 23 games and recorded two assists. Unfortunately, he’s been on injured reserve multiple times throughout the season, something that also happened to him during his time in Boston. He’s a good defenseman, but won’t match what Lindholm did with the Ducks. He was a restricted free agent this past summer and the Ducks re-signed him to a two-year deal worth $850,000 a season. He’ll be a restricted free agent when it’s over, so the Ducks will have control over his NHL future for quite some time.

Currently, Gaucher is arguably Anaheim’s top forward prospect, and plays for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL and has scored 22 goals and 43 points in 40 games. He also played for Team Canada at the World Juniors where he scored a goal and four points in seven games. While he doesn’t have an immensely high offensive ceiling, he should play in the NHL someday, and I don’t think 20 goals is out of the question in his NHL future.

Final Thoughts

While I consider the Deslauriers deal a minor win for the Ducks, there’s little question that the Lindholm trade has been a massive win for Boston. They got a defenseman who is playing the best hockey of his career and signed to a good deal. I understand why Verbeek didn’t want to go eight years on Lindholm’s deal, and think he did receive good value at the time, but, a year later, I do wish that he’d been able to get more for Lindholm given how fantastic he’s been this season. The first round pick was great, but a prospect who was less injury-prone would have been preferable.

Similar to the Josh Manson deal, with Anaheim retaining so much salary, I would have liked another pick thrown in, or even another first round pick in place of the two second round picks. However, Vaakanainen is still young, Gaucher looks good, and the Ducks still have two more draft picks from this deal. It will take a long time to know the full impact of this deal for the Ducks, and it could end up being a big win for them as well. For now, it’s certainly not a loss for Anaheim, but Boston has definitely come out on top.

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March 20th, 2023


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