Teemu Selanne returned to the Ducks for 26 games last season, racking up 23 points to finish the regular season. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
Thanks a bunch, Mr. Niedermayer.
Due in large part to the all-world defenseman’s dithering last season, Anaheim GM Brian Burke is surely in a fowl (sorry, couldn’t help it) mood in the days following Mathieu Schneider’s waiver-wire clearing that leaves the Ducks short of the cap space necessary to bring Teemu Selanne back into the flock (apologies again).
It was Scott Niedermayer’s will-I-or-won’t-I-retire act that led to Burke inking Schneider to a two-year deal last summer as an insurance policy in case Niedermayer took the pension route.
Now, despite the fact they’d like nothing more than to give Schneider away, the Ducks are mighty stuck.
"Looking at some of the teams and what they plan to start the season with I'm amazed, astonished, you pick the adjective, bewildered, that he wasn't claimed," Burke told the L.A. Times Wednesday. "But those teams have to deal with those issues, not me."
I’ll pick the adjective ‘mildly surprised’ to describe my reaction upon learning no one nabbed the 39-year-old Schneider and his $5.625 million cap hit – L.A. is still under the salary floor - but my mind quickly turned to puzzlement over how exactly the Ducks were going to welcome Selanne back with non-existent cap space.
The Ducks, according to nhlscap.com, currently hover $3.235 million over the cap ceiling, meaning even if they shun the Finnish Flash and his 60 goals in 108 games over the past two seasons, they’ll still need to shed payroll prior to the puck dropping on the regular season.
What’s a GM to do?
Burke says he doesn’t want to allow a team to grab Schneider at half price via re-entry waivers, so he won’t send him to Iowa. Nor is it logical to break up the core of his already thin team by dealing away another desirable commodity with significant salary, or throw in a prospect to sweeten the Schneider pot.
And so we, and Teemu, and Mathieu, wait.
But maybe not for long. Selanne signed a pro tryout agreement Friday that allows him to participate in all training camp activities, while Schneider won’t report at all.
"They have said something may be imminent, so there's no point in coming," Pat Morris, Schneider’s agent, told the Orange County Register. "He's going to stay home through the weekend. Maybe something will get done."
Of course, Burke, or whichever GM succeeds him, will have the complete opposite problem next off-season when the Ducks will face 15 UFAs and have only five current forwards (Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Kuntiz, Carter), one defenseman (Pronger) and two goalies (Giguere, Hiller) under contract for a total of $31.8 million. All of that and an owner who’s facing possible jail time, which could throw the entire team’s finances in to disarray.
So there’s always that to look forward to...
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog normally appears Fridays.
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