Hockey

Scott Niedermayer joins Anaheim

The 31-year-old defenceman leaves New Jersey after 12 seasons.

The NHL's free-agent shuffle continued Thursday when defenceman Scott Niedermayer signed with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

The 31-year-old unrestricted free agent inked a four-year contract worth $27 million US.

"I just felt I wanted to have new challenges in life," Niedermayer said. "Do different things, try different things."

Niedermayer, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman in 2003-04, captured a trio of Stanley Cups in 12 seasons with the New Jersey Devils.

The smooth-skating rearguard has totalled 112 goals and 476 with a plus-172 rating in 892 NHL games since being drafted third overall by the Devils in 1991.

"I've been in New Jersey for a long time - a lot of memories - and to make a decision like this is difficult to do," he said.

"We have tremendous respect for him," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "We did have a conversation last night when he told me of his decision and I'm sure you can all imagine it was a difficult conversation for all parties.

"I've known him since he was 18 and we've shared a lot of highs together. We respect his decision."

Niedermayer reportedly rejected a more lucrative offer from the Devils, but wanted to team up in the NHL with younger brother Rob, who re-signed with Anaheim for four years and $8 million US.

"Since I was 16 and he was 15, we've been apart," Scott explained. "But now we can be together again.

"I was probably the happiest guy around," added Rob.

"Scott Niedermayer is one of the top defencemen in the game today whose skating, puck-moving ability and leadership qualities make him a great addition to our team," Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke stated. "Rob has already proven his worth to the organization with his physical style of play, speed and versatility."

"I can say to Mr. and Mrs. Niedermayer, 'You no longer have to pick a team when you're cheering for your sons,"' Burke joked.

Niedermayer was courted by several clubs, reportedly the Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks.

He is one of the most mobile defencemen in the NHL, possessing an exceptional blend of vision and recuperative ability.

Niedermayer, who resides in Cranbrook, B.C., helped Team Canada win the gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

In other NHL movement Thursday:

  • The Boston Bruins grabbed centre Alexei Zhamnov for $12.3 million US over three years.

  • The Buffalo Sabres inked defenceman Teppo Numminen to a one-year contract worth $2 million US.

  • The Calgary Flames re-signed defenceman Jordan Leopold (two years, $2.3 million US) and forward Daymond Langkow.

  • The Carolina Hurricanes signed defenceman Oleg Tverdovsky (three-years, $7.5 million US) as well as forwards Keith Aucoin and David Gove.

  • The Chicago Blackhawks reached contract terms with forward Martin Lapointe (three years, $7.2 million US) and defenceman Jaroslav Spacek (one year, $2.25 million US).

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets locked in goaltender Martin Prusek for 2005-06.

  • The Colorado Avalanche brought back forward Alex Tanguay and defenceman Kurt Sauer.

  • The Detroit Red Wings re-signed defencemen Chris Chelios and forward Johan Franzen.

  • The Minnesota Wild signed defencemen Scott Ferguson and Kurtis Foster.

  • The Nashville Predators secured the services of defencemen Mark Eaton and Sheldon Brookbank.

  • The New Jersey Devils signed three defencemen: Brian Rafalski (two years, $8.4 million US); Vladimir Malakhov (two years, $7.2 million US); and Dan McGillis (two years, $4.4 million US).

  • The New York Rangers added defenceman Ville Nieminen and forward Jason Ward (two years, $1.275 million US).

  • The Philadelphia Flyers traded forward Jeremy Roenick and a third-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings for future considerations.

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins signed forward Andre Roy for three years at $3 million US.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signed forward Tie Domi to a two-year, $2.5 million US contract.

    with files from CP Online