Torts emphasizing two types of speed for Jackets
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With defenseman Hampus Lindholm finally under contract, the Anaheim Ducks will seek their fourth win in five games when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night at the Honda Center.
Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. on FOX Sports Ohio
Lindholm, a restricted free agent, signed a six-year contract worth $31.5 million on Thursday. The agreement makes Lindholm the Ducks' highest-paid defenseman after he led the team with 115 blocked shots while scoring 10 goals last season.
"I'm really happy to be back in Anaheim," Lindholm said on a conference call from his native Sweden. "There's where I've been all my career so I'm really happy to be back with the team and everyone."
But before Lindholm rejoins the team, the 22-year-old Swede must get a work visa while general manager Bob Murray resolves the salary-cap problems resulting from the deal.
Capfriendly.com calculates that Anaheim exceeds the salary cap by $1.4 million, even after placing defenseman Simon Despres and center Nate Thompson on long-term injured reserve. Nevertheless, Murray believes re-signing Lindholm was imperative to maintaining the Ducks' status as contenders.
"It solidifies this organization," Murray told NHL.com. "Hampus is a really good young hockey player. He's part of the future of this franchise. He's only going to get better."
Murray also implied that Lindholm's signing represents at least the beginning of the Ducks' last stand with their current roster.
"We wanted to get it at a fair number for the organization so we could try to move forward with this group as best we can," he told NHL.com. "I wanted to give this group another shot. I'm going to do everything in my power to keep it that way."
That includes managing the salary cap while concentrating on winning the team's second Stanley Cup.
"It's going to be an interesting experience," Murray told NHL.com. "But I'm going to do the best I can to give this group one last shot at this."
Another recently signed restricted free agent, center Rickard Rakell, practiced with his teammates for the first time Wednesday. Rakell agreed to another six-year contract worth $22.8 million on Oct. 14. But Rakell will not be ready for Friday night's game. Center Ryan Getzlaf might miss his second consecutive contest after a shot hit him in the left forearm Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.
Columbus enters the game after Thursday night's 3-1 loss in San Jose. The Blue Jackets' 2-3-1 record provides a radical contrast from last year's 0-8 start, and reflects a renewed emphasis on conditioning to deal with the NHL's increasing speed.
"Everybody looks quicker," Columbus forward Nick Foligno told the Columbus Dispatch. "To a guy, you definitely feel quicker and lighter on your skates. But it's more than that, too. It's the way we're playing. We're trying to play faster and think faster and be faster with our heads, not just faster with our feet."
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella believes mental quickness can compensate for physical speed.
"If you're even a little bit slower than the other teams -- as far as just foot speed -- but you have a mindset of playing quick, I think you can be a quick team," Tortorella told the Dispatch. "We're certainly trying to play quick."
That quickness begins with the Blue Jackets' defensemen sending the puck up the ice more rapidly and avoiding lateral passes. Tortorella described his goal using a metaphorical compass.
"We're just trying to be as north-south as we can," he told the Dispatch, "and try to get away from going D to D and traveling east to west as much."