Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Niedermayer’s coming back, but another Duck will have to pack

Scott Niedermayer’s off season is about to come to an end, the one time captain of the Anaheim Ducks and long time team leader has decided that he still has some hockey left in him after all and once he gets his fitness up to game level he’ll be back on the ice.

Good news for Anaheim fans, good news for Brian Burke who has watched his Stanley Cup winners struggle through this early part of the season, but it’s decidedly bad news for somebody currently on that Ducks roster.

Salary cap concerns mean that in order to bring the prodigal bird back into the Ducks nest, somebody else will have to take flight.

A scenario which should make for an interesting situation where Brian Burke will have to be making a few phone calls in the next few days, looking for teams with some cap room to play with.

It’s expected that Niedermayer’s conditioning phase will last a minimum of ten days or so, so watching for healthy scratches on the Ducks will become a key activity for NHL fans over the next few weeks.

The apparent name to watch is Mathieu Schneider, who assuming the Ducks can find a team willing to take on his $5.625-million annual contract could be finding that California sun was fun, but it’s time to move on.

While it will be interesting to see if he can contribute quickly or not, assistance is required on the Ducks this year, as they have not performed at a level that would put them in the running for a repeat of last years Stanley Cup victory.

The next bird that could possibly be migrating back to a more traditional home might be Teemu Selanne, who is reportedly staying in shape but hasn’t spent much time on any ice in recent months. Like Niedermayer, he too retired after picking up Lord Stanley’s Mug last spring, what remains to be seen is if he has the same sense of one more year in the tank.

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