ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks are once again a Stanley Cup contender, but the work of general manager Bob Murray is to make sure they remain so for years to come.
To that end, the signing on Monday of future franchise goalie John Gibson to a three-year extension worth an average of $2.3 million per season is just another building block in that process.
It comes on the heels of extensions this past summer for Ryan Kesler, Carl Hagelin and Jakob Silfverberg, but the work is far from done. Other Ducks entering the final years of their contracts include Hampus Lindholm, Simon Despres, Sami Vatanen, Frederik Andersen and Rickard Rakell, among others.
The team has talked to many of those players’ agents already, wanting to get a number of them done as soon as possible.
"We’re trying, I’ve got a bunch," Murray said Monday after Gibson’s deal was announced. "Young guys that want to be here will be here. But there’s certain situations that have to happen in Anaheim."
That was a not-so-subtle message from the Ducks' GM to those players and agents.
"You want to see what young players want to be here," Murray continued. "We reached out to a bunch of players. It works a little different in Anaheim than some places. Not all, but some. We have a certain revenue here to work with. For years, we’ve been in the 20s (among 30 clubs) in revenue in the league, and we’re finally creeping up. But I think there’s a ceiling to where we can get to in Anaheim.
"Our players know that. A lot of our players in the past that have been here for a long time have taken -- call it what you want -- a hometown discount or a haircut, but they want to play here. I want young players who want to stay and be part of the organization. It’s not a bad place to play."
Of the players who require extensions, you would think Lindholm leads the way in importance, followed by Andersen and Vatanen.
Getting Gibson's deal done was also important. He’s the future in net for Anaheim. The new deal, which won’t kick in until next season, will pay him $1.5 million in the first season, $2.1 million in the second and wrap up at $3.3 million in the final season.
"Yeah it’s exciting as far as the future, and hopefully I can be here sooner than later," Gibson said Monday after signing the deal.
Gibson and Murray spoke Saturday about the game plan for the goalie. It’s pretty obvious after the offseason acquisition of backup goalie Anton Khubodin that Gibson is headed to San Diego to start the season in the AHL, especially given he's in the last season of an entry-level, two-way deal that doesn't require him to clear waivers before going down.
"He’s prepared for that. I told him, 'Maybe you’ll start in the A[HL], but injuries happen,'" Murray said. "And injuries have happened to us in goal every year the last 4-5 years here. We always have injuries."
Indeed, injuries early last season to both Gibson and Jason LaBarbera forced the Ducks to sign Ilya Bryzgalov in November. That didn’t exactly work out, either. Now, the Ducks are three-deep in net with three guys they like.
"I have some security now, that’s the bottom line," Murray said. "I’m really comfortable with where I am."
Gibson understands why he’s likely San Diego-bound to start the season, but it’s clear he doesn’t intend on being there long.
"I’m just looking forward to playing. Obviously, I want to be here sooner rather than later," Gibson, 22, said. "But I can’t really control that. I’m just going to play and play my best.
"I’m sure with every decision they make it’s for the betterment of the team, so you have to respect that. I’m just worried about playing and doing my job."
It’s a big year for Gibson, who should be in the mix to be the goaltender for the under-23 Team North America entry in next September's World Cup of Hockey.