The Anaheim Ducks’ 2007-08 season officially kicked off Wednesday when superstar defenseman Scott Niedermayer – to nobody’s surprise, really – announced his intention to rejoin the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
That is good news for both the Ducks and the NHL. Might not be such good news for fellow Ducks blueliner Mathieu Schneider, however. Niedermayer’s return means the Ducks must address salary cap issues and Schneider could be the odd man out.
That said, it opens the door for Ducks GM Brian Burke to make a move to add more scoring. The Ducks, ninth in their conference, are the second-lowest scoring team in the West. Free agent acquisition Todd Bertuzzi has shown signs recently of returning to the form that made him one of the NHL’s best power forwards a few years ago, but the Ducks still have not replaced Teemu Selanne’s 48 goals. Selanne’s contract expired after winning his first Cup last season and he has given no indication he’ll return.
Burke has proven himself to be one of the NHL’s most aggressive and creative managers, so don’t be surprised if he moves quickly to settle his roster, once and for all.
With Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Schneider (for now), Francois Beauchemin and Sean O’Donnell, the Ducks have the NHL’s best blueline. What remains to be seen is if they have the resolve and commitment to become the first team since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings to win back-to-back Cups.
As for Niedermayer’s decision to return, there will be those who criticize his decision to take a few extra months off. With the money today’s top earners make, you’ll see more and more players like Roger Clemens and Scott Niedermayer playing if and when it suits them.
To which we say, get used to it.