ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 09: Lubomir Visnovsky #17 of the Anaheim Ducks skates alongside teammate captain Scott Niedermayer #27 (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved. via view1.picapp.com
The Anaheim Ducks are in the midst of a retooling. In other places, this mini-teardown might be considered a rebuild, but with Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and the plow they pull around, Corey Perry up front and Jonas Hiller in goal, there is a tremendous core to the team that should be easy for a good personnel man to build from. Joining the first line up front next year will be Jason Blake, Joffrey Lupul, Todd Marchant, Kyle Chipchura, Ryan Carter and George Parros. They've got a couple of kids that should be around in Nick Bonino, Matt Beleskey and Dan Sexton as well as the possibility of a top ten draft pick making the club. The goaltending situation is stable for now with Jonas Hiller manning the crease and it doesn't really matter who backing him up.
According to Capgeek.com, the Ducks have committed $37,060,416 against the cap next season and the only significant in-house increase will be for Bobby Ryan. Ryan needs a new contract and should the pattern hold, he'll sign a five year extension for $26,625,000, or $5,325,000 per year, an increase of $3,400,000 over this year's cap hit. Add Ryan to the cap and the Ducks have $42,385,416 committed to the cap. The Ducks will have to shop for a center to replace Saku Koivu and the rumors are that this is Teemu Selanne's final year...at least for now...so they may want to find some scoring punch on the wing as well, but with their top line, the forward situation is manageable.
On defense, however, the situation looks much worse. With just two defensemen under contract for next season, Lubomir Visnovsky ($5,600,000) and Steve Eminger ($1,125,000) and only one in the system that should make the team, Lucas Sbisa, the Ducks defensive depth is non-existent. Aaron Ward likely won't be asked to come back and Scott Neidermayer will likely retire. Even if Niedermayer doesn't retire, the Ducks shouldn't ask him back next season, at least not at $6,750,000. Niedermayer's play has fallen off sharply this season, so much so that nearly everyone in the know questioned his selection to Team Canada and his workload in Vancouver.
|GP||G||A||P||PPP||ES +/- 60 ||QC Rk ||QT Rk ||Corsi||Corsi Rk ||ZS Rk ||PDO|
|2009 - Scott Niedermayer||73||9||35||44||24||-.73||1/7||1/7||-1.89||1/7||7/7||981|
Niedermayer's numbers aren't terrible for a first-pairing defenseman on a bad team, but his numbers are terrible for someone making as much money as he does. He's getting good teammates against the best competition and no longer coming out on top. He's still very much effective on the power play in that "rover" role that Anaheim has him playing, so he would be a very good player in a second or third minutes role, getting significant power play time. Is that time worth $6,750,000? Not to a retooling team, especially when there is value to be had in free agency, and Visnovsky can handle the power play minutes.
Would Niedermayer take a significant pay cut to stay in Anaheim? I don't think so, especially considering that there are a slew of general managers willing to overpay Niedermayer and keep him in the $6,000,000 range.
Expect Anaheim to be very active in the free agent market, especially in the way of a defensive stalwart type. Lubomir Visnovsky is one of the best defensemen in the league, and brings offense from everywhere on the ice through his skating, passing and superior shot and Luca Sbisa is offensively-minded, but struggles in his own zone at times. Anaheim may not get involved in the bidding war over Dan Hamhuis, but they may be involved in going after guys like Zbynek Michalek or Anton Volchenkov. It's likely that they would need a second significant defenseman to be competitive, someone like Jordan Leopold, Henrik Tallinder, or Brett Clark - three guys that play extremely well in their own zone.