There are quite of few defensemen on the market this summer that are just about the end of their career. Dallas' blueline stalwart Sergei Zubov is 38 and he's available, though he's coming off hip surgery. Longtime #1 defenseman and Colorado legend Rob Blake is 39, still showed he had a lot left in the tank, and he's available. Even #2/#3s like Mathieu Schneider (40) and Teppo Numminen (40) are also available. Of course with all four guys, who knows if they'll even play next season?
But among all of these and the only one who would be viable for the Devils is a man we're all a little familiar with. The man who held #27 for three Stanley Cups, Mr. Scott Niedermayer.
#27 / Defenseman / Anaheim Ducks
Aug 31, 1973
2008-09 Salary: $6.75 million
|2008 - Scott Niedermayer||82||14||45||59||-8||70||9||0||2||0||178||7.9|
At age 35 (going on 36), Niedermayer is still a man who piles up who glides with wonderful effort be it from east-to-west or north-to-south. Niedermayer has definitely been productive, compiling 63, 69, 25 (in 48 games), and 59 points in his four seasons each in Anaheim. More impressively, he has at least 7 power play goals in each season. And the minutes. Even with Chris Pronger on the team, Niedermayer averaged 26:55 a night with the Ducks in this past season. Only Pronger, Bouwmeester, and Bryan Allen has averaged more minutes! And with no major injuries to report, his age is truly just a number - Niedermayer is fantastic.
Most of all, Niedermayer is still a winner. In his time with Anaheim, he has helped lead the Ducks back to the Stanley Cup Finals, winning it all in 2007. Even though the Ducks were eliminated in the second round, Niedermayer was crucial with 3 goals and 7 assists - a definite asset as they took San Jose down and Detroit to the limit. I'd go as far as to say that if you're looking for a #1, stud defenseman, Niedermayer is your best option after Bouwmeester, who I covered yesterday. Plus, that he's an ex-Devil can't hurt.
Of course, his departure from the Devils as a free agent has left a sour taste in the mouths of the Devils' faithful. After the 2003-04 season, the rumor was that Scott wanted to play with his brother Rob Niedermayer, who was a center for Anaheim. After 3 Cups and his first Norris trophy in New Jersey, what more could Scott do? At first, he signed a one year deal with the Devils. But the 2004-05 season never actually happened, so Niedermayer was unrestricted once again. After hemming and hawing, Niedermayer ultimately rejected Lou's offer and signed a deal with Anaheim in that offseason for four years and $6.75 million/year. Because Niedermayer delayed in his signing; Lou had to sign whatever was left in terms of defensemen and ended up with Dan McGillis and Vladamir Malakhov, both of whom were, well, not good in New Jersey.
After all the seasons, the success, the points, and the smiles he put on the fans faces, that was the icing on the cake of disappointment.
In all honesty, I don't think many Devils fans would not want Niedermayer back for this reason. It's been 4 years and the Devils themselves shown that they can be a strong team without him. Plus, if you think the team needs a bonified #1 defenseman, there isn't anyone else that's more attractive for this role other than Bouwmeester. The numbers speak for themselves, really.
However, while Brian Rolston, Bobby Holik, and Brendan Shanahan all signed deals to come back to New Jersey, who knows if Niedermayer wants to come back at all? Have there been any indications? I truly do not know. From a cap standpoint, how much is it going to cost? Niedermayer made $6.75 million last year and, well, earned his keep and then some. I can't imagine him or his agents will settle for too much less. If the Devils are willing to spend that much for one player, why not just swing for the fence and use that money in a long-term offer for Bouwmeester? Unless the idea is to sign someone for a lot of money for a short-term deal.
Most of all, will the Devils also have to sign Rob Niedermayer to make it happen? Rob's a character forward and he's not all that productive. He's listed at center, but I can't imagine he played there much with a 38.2% winning percentage on faceoffs. According to his player page, he's versatile, he's more defensive, and he's poor on offense. He got $2 million from Anaheim this past season. The Devils already have Jay Pandolfo, why would they want another one even if it guarantees Scott? I thnk you can get more from, say, Rod Pelley on the bottom two lines than from Rob Niedermayer. Again, why try to get both for the same money that could be offered to Bouwmeester?
Whereas the reason why Bouwmeester is highly unlikely to sign is due to money, the same ultimately applies to Scott Niedermayer. Even if the Devils don't need to sign his brother Rob, Scott Niedermayer can definitely command $6 million or more for one or two more seasons. Given that he's done all there is to be done in hockey (4 Stanley Cups, Norris trophy, a Gold medal with Canada in the Olympics, World Championships, and World Junior Championships), what more does he even want to do? He's already set up in California, he can just call it a career and without any shame - he's going to the Hall of Fame eventually!
I think he's a little more possible based on a faint idea of a hope that he might want to end his career where he spent 13 years of it. But who knows if that's actually true or not. For money issue alone that plagues the idea of signing Bouwmeester, I think the Devils should avoid bringing back Scott. He was great, he is great, and he'd be great in New Jersey, don't get me wrong. But he could command way too much cap space and ultimately string up the Devils elsewhere. Especially if it'll mean Rob has to come with him.
In any case, have your say about the possibility of bringing back Scott Niedermayer. Perhaps I'm dead wrong and he'll take a discount to come back for one or two years? Perhaps I'm dead right and the Devils should avoid him. Perhaps you'd like to complain about how bad Malakhov's second go-around with the Devils were (it was baaaaaad). Perhaps you'd like to know who else remains as a top pairing defenseman on the market this summer? For that, let's discuss this tomorrow.