Monday, January 28, 2008

The Finnish Flash flies back to the nest

"The only reason why I came back is that I really felt that I wanted to play hockey again," Teemu Selanne upon his return to the Anaheim Ducks

Well rested after a half season sabbatical, Teemu Selanne has signed back on for duty with the Anaheim Ducks, ready to provide yet another piece of the puzzle for Brian Burke.

In what seems to be an Anaheim trend, Selanne like fellow Duck, Scott Niedermayer before him didn’t quite get the hockey bug out of him yet. Unlike Niedermayer however, his return won’t result in the need to move a high profile player out of the nest to make room.

Selanne who is an unrestricted free agent, will pick up a prorated $1.5-million dollars, which counts about $600,000 against the team's salary cap, should he regain his scoring touch and skating form quickly he is also eligible to earn up to another $1.2-million in regular-season bonuses.

And best of all for Burke and fans of the Ducks, his signing doesn’t bust the bank just yet, meaning that as the trading deadline approaches, Burke if he feels it is warranted can still chase down another player that might fit in with the Ducks as they make their move on a playoff position in the Western Conference.

The whispers of Selanne’s return began during the all star break; with GM Brian Burke suggesting that they could make some room on the cap should Selanne decide that seeking out another Stanley Cup was in his immediate future.

It would seem that after five months of thought, the Finn finally found that absence did make his heart grow fonder and he’s now ready to lace them up for the stretch and head into the playoffs to defend his team’s Stanley Cup title.

He stepped onto the ice for the first time with the Ducks on Monday, for a grueling workout, Selanne had previously been skating for three weeks before his arrival in Anaheim but probably is not quite in game shape just yet, leaving it to coach Randy Carlyle to decide when he will activate his latest addition to the roster.

Burke is proving to be pretty adept at bringing back the key elements of last years Stanley Cup Drive, filling in holes with familiar faces and pivotal ones at a key time. The balance of power is starting to shift again in the West, a decidedly southwestern tilt as the Ducks begin to make their move just in time for a playoff run.

The rest of the Western contenders will now have to begin to working on their own cap math, looking to match the solid moves of Burke with some additions of their own.

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