ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Although the Anaheim Ducks selected Hampus Lindholm with the sixth overall pick Friday night, the Swedish defenseman's arrival was almost a secondary development on a busy draft day.
General manager Bob Murray prefaced his compliments for Lindholm and his sadness at the departure of traded defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to voice his displeasure with star forward Bobby Ryan, who ripped the organization in a newspaper interview.
Ryan is angry about hearing his name in repeated trade rumors for much of the past 10 months, and the four-time 30-goal scorer from South Jersey said he would love to join the Philadelphia Flyers. Murray doesn't comment on trade talks, but he wishes Ryan would pay less attention to the media.
"I'd just like to say I'm disappointed at this time about his comments, and I intend to talk to Bobby personally when I get back from the draft," Murray said by phone from the draft in Pittsburgh.
Ryan's angry comments became public shortly before the Ducks parted ways with Visnovsky, trading the veteran defenseman to the New York Islanders for a second-round pick in next year's draft. Visnovsky was the NHL's top-scoring defenseman with 68 points during the 2010-11 season, but was slowed by injuries throughout last season, managing just six goals and 21 assists.
The 35-year-old Slovak also has just one year left on his contract.
"At this time we're changing the direction of our team a little bit," Murray said. "He's an offensive defenseman, and I think we have some younger players that can play (that role). It's a hockey move, and we're attempting to change a little bit the look on that back end."
Although Lindholm won't help the Ducks for at least another year, Murray believes he is a long-term candidate to fill that job for many seasons to come. That is why Anaheim took a big risk to land a player who could provide a major reward.
The Ducks bypassed several higher-rated defense prospects to choose the 6-foot-2 Lindholm, whose all-around game has impressed Murray since he first saw Lindholm in person in February. Murray returned to Sweden in April to watch him again, and the smooth-skating defenseman was remarkably impressive in his pre-draft fitness workouts.