Niedermayers get together with Anaheim

Posted: Friday, August 05, 2005

On the day Peter Forsberg was reintroduced to Philadelphia, Anaheim became the NHL’s city of brotherly love.

Scott Niedermayer spurned a lucrative offer to return to the New Jersey Devils in favor of a four-year deal from Anaheim, that will allow him to play on the Mighty Ducks with his brother.

‘‘I was probably the happiest guy around,’’ said Rob Niedermayer, who also inked a four-year contract Thursday to stay in Anaheim.

It’s safe to say that Scott, the Norris Trophy winner as the league’s top defenseman in 2003-04 — the last season before the NHL lockout — is happy, too. He agreed to a $27-million contract that brings him home to the West Coast.

Niedermayer could’ve earned more money from New Jersey — more than $1 million per season — and gotten a fifth year added on to the deal. But even after having Scott in the Devils organization since he was 18, there were some things general manager Lou Lamoriello couldn’t offer that would bring the star defenseman back for a 14th season.

Anaheim was the only team that could.

‘‘Since I was 16 and he was 15, we’ve been apart, but now we can be together again. The family can all come down,’’ Scott Niedermayer said Thursday in a conference call from British Columbia. ‘‘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.’’

Something Forsberg can relate to.

Niedermayer said goodbye to New Jersey, where he won three Stanley Cup titles. Forsberg left Colorado on Wednesday, taking his two championship rings to Philadelphia where the Flyers are searching for their first NHL title since 1975.

‘‘It puts too much pressure, but of course I want to show that I’m a good player and help the team go as far as we can,’’ said Forsberg, a five-time All-Star and the NHL MVP in 2003. ‘‘I think there’s no question that everybody expects us to go far and hopefully win the Cup.’’

Forsberg was selected in the first round by the Flyers in the 1991 draft but was traded away a year later in the deal that brought Eric Lindros to Philadelphia. Forsberg never played a game with the Flyers.

‘‘He would’ve looked good in orange and black the last 10 years,’’ Flyers GM Bob Clarke said.

But Forsberg’s two-year, $11.5 million contract put the Flyers in a salary-cap bind and that meant someone had to go. That someone was popular and outspoken forward Jeremy Roenick, who waived his no-trade clause and was dealt to the Kings on Thursday.

‘‘I didn’t expect to be here in this uniform. The Flyers called me to ask if I’d be willing to make a trade and I said, ’Yes, if it’s to one of two teams,’’’ Roenick said. ‘‘L.A. was the first choice.’’

Phoenix, where Roenick played five seasons, was his second.

Los Angeles also receives a 2006 third-round draft pick the Flyers acquired from Nashville. Philadelphia gets future considerations from the Kings and space under the $39-million cap.

In other moves Thursday:

— The Red Wings re-signed 43-year-old defenseman Chris Chelios to a one-year contract and brought back defenseman Mathieu Schneider with a two-year deal.

— The Boston Bruins introduced Brian Leetch and then signed center Alexei Zhamnov for three years.

— Leetch’s former team, the New York Rangers, signed hard-hitting forward Ville Nieminen and right wing Jason Ward — most recently of the Montreal Canadiens.

— Buffalo signed 37-year-old defenseman Teppo Numminen to a one-year deal.

— Calgary re-signed defenseman Jordan Leopold and added forward Daymond Langkow. The Flames also traded forward Chris Clark to Washington for a conditional draft pick.

— The Carolina Hurricanes signed defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky to a three-year deal, bringing him back to the NHL after he spent two seasons playing in his native Russia.

— Chicago signed forward Martin Lapointe for three years and gave defenseman Jaroslav Spacek a one-year deal.

— The Columbus Blue Jackets signed former Ottawa goaltender Martin Prusek to a one-year contract.

— The Pittsburgh Penguins found some protection for their offensive-minded forwards by signing tough guy Andre Roy to a three-year contract.

While Lamoriello waited for an answer this week from Scott Niedermayer, many other big-name defensemen found new homes around the NHL — some even landed with Atlantic Division-foes. But within hours of Niedermayer’s agreement with Anaheim, New Jersey’s shrewd GM replenished his blueliners.

The Devils re-signed Brian Rafalski, brought back former Devils player Vladimir Malakhov, and inked Dan McGillis.

All three got two-year deals but none plays to the level of Niedermayer.

‘‘We’re not going to sit there and brood over it,’’ Lamoriello said. ‘‘We made a substantial offer and did tie up a considerable amount of money. We had another plan should that not work out and we feel extremely comfortable with our defense right now.’’

That will be anchored by Rafalski, who will earn $4.2 million in each of the next two seasons. The 36-year-old Malakhov will make $3.6 million per season, and McGillis was given a $4.4 million deal over two years.

Lamoriello wouldn’t say if he lost out on other high-profile defensemen as he tried to persuade Niedermayer to stay. But he is pleased with Plan B.

‘‘Scotty is in another uniform and we have to get the people that we have ready to play in our uniforms,’’ Lamoriello said.

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