Newspaper article The Canadian Press

After Tough Off-Season, Ducks Forward Rickard Rakell Hasn't Missed a Beat

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

After Tough Off-Season, Ducks Forward Rickard Rakell Hasn't Missed a Beat

Article excerpt

Rickard Rakell not missing a beat with Ducks

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Kevin Bieksa says Rickard Rakell is one of "those" players.

The kind that flies under the radar -- mostly because he plays in California with the Anaheim Ducks -- but whose name appears on the scoresheet night after night.

"I didn't know anything about him when I went down there last year," said Bieksa, a veteran defenceman in his second season for Anaheim following a trade from Vancouver. "But when you see this guy every day in practice you're like: 'He's a lot better than I thought.' Very skilled and really competes."

Rakell has blasted out of the gate for the Ducks since rejoining the club on Nov. 1, but while everything seems to be clicking now, his situation was a lot murkier not that long ago.

The 23-year-old forward, who had an appendectomy in April, was training hard to be part of Sweden's team at the World Cup of Hockey as a replacement for the injured Alexander Steen. That's when a second surgery was required to remove scar tissue from the first procedure, ruling him out of the tournament.

Rakell also had a stomach virus while rehabbing back home, and the Ducks wanted to be sure he would return to full health before signing the restricted free agent to a new contract. The two sides eventually agreed to a six-year deal worth a reported US$3.8 million annually in the middle of October.

"It was just unfortunate that I got stomach problems again," Rakell said in Vancouver last week. "I had to work back up a little bit, but because I had such a good summer and was in such great shape, that made it a lot easier to come back."

Playing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Rakell had a dream start to his season with a one-goal, two-assist effort in a 4-0 victory over the rival Los Angeles Kings. He hit a bit of a wall around the five-game mark after his return, but now has six goals over his last eight outings. …

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