Former Detroit defenceman Mathieu Schneider, left, celebrates a goal with teammate Johan Franzen during the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. Schneider signed a two-year, free agent-deal with the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. ((Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press))

With Scott Niedermayer leaning toward retirement, the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks have signed unrestricted free-agent defenceman Mathieu Schneider to a two-year deal worth $11.25 million US.

Schneider, 38,had 11 goals and 41 assists in68 games with Detroit last season, his fourth with the Red Wings. He'll earn $5.5 million next season and $5.75 million the following year.

Niedermayer, 33, who was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs in June, told Anaheim general manager Brian Burke at the team's year-end meetings that he was thinking about hanging up his skates.

Niedermayertouched base with Burke again Sunday morning, reaffirming that he isfavouring retirement after 14 NHL seasons.

"Scott Niedermayer has informed me that he is leaning toward retirement," Burke said in a statement. "Typical of his character and leadership, he made the call this morning in order to allow us to make alternative plans in the event he does not return.

"Although he has not retired and would be welcomed back, we felt adding another top NHL defenceman was critical to defending our championship.

"Mathieu Schneider fits into that category and will be a great addition to our team."

Niedermayersaidduring a conference call from his home in Cranbrook, B.C., on Sundaythat he had thought about calling it quitsif the Ducks wonhockey'sbiggestprize in 2007.

"I felt we had a decent chance at trying to win a Stanley Cup," said Niedermayer. "And I guess I thought that after that happened … I would consider retirement."

When asked if he was strongly leaning toward retirement, Niedermayer responded: "That's a fair word, for sure."

If Niedermayer does come back, the Ducks would have an enviabletop-four defensive core that also includes all-star Chris Pronger and François Beauchemin.

The NHL is projecting that the league's salary cap will be $50.3 million US per team and Schneider, Niedermayer, Pronger and Beauchemin would earn $21.15 million of the team's salary.

Schneider, a veteran of 17 NHL seasons,has seemingly gotten better with age.He's scored 50 or more points in four of the past six seasons.

Overhis career, Schneiderhas 663 points in 1,132career games with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings.

The American-born defenceman lives in Southern California in the off-season.

With files from the Canadian Press