Selanne, Kariya and the Defense
Teemu Selanne has officially rejoined the Ducks for another season at an estimated 3.25 million a year. It’s not really surprising that Selanne, coming off one of his best seasons ever despite battling injuries, would return. What’s more surprising is that he hinted in a Finnish newspaper that he wouldn’t mind playing for another two seasons. A strange statement from a player who retired after the Ducks won the Cup in 2007 only to un-retire and play the reaming 26 games of the season. Selanne has pretty much pulled a Brett Favre ever since then with his constant waffling on whether he will return or not for the following season. He at least has stuck to his word and is less dramatic about it. Additionally, the Finnish Flash has also hinted many times about his desire to be reunited with Paul Kariya. Selanne and Kariya were teammates with the Ducks from 1995-96 to 2000-01. They were briefly reunited with the Colorado Avalanche during the 2003-04 season, before going their separate ways again.
Though Kariya and the Ducks last go around did not end well, I always believe time heals all wounds. The Ducks have plenty of cap space to sign Kariya. It would be interesting to see if they will though, mostly because the Ducks are currently looking at a log jam at the forward position. A Kariya addition would only further clog it. Still it looks likely the Ducks will sign the free agent Kariya, especially if Selanne pushes for it.
As for the defense, General Manger Bob Murray continues to try and make it over. At the end of the 2008-09 season, the Ducks had made strong moves to have a top four of Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney and James Wisniewski. Three of the four went on to win Olympic medals. But now none remain. Pronger was dealt to Philadelphia because it was too expensive to keep him and Niedermayer and the Ducks were also looking to bolster their forwards, ironically something they now have too much of. Given that Niedermayer retired a few months ago, it might have been smarter to have kept Pronger and then either have traded Niedermayer (sacrilegious I know) or signed him to a really low offer, like they did with Selanne in the past. Whitney was traded for another Olympian in Lubomir Visnovsky who is a much better fit in the current Ducks system. The real head scratcher to all of this though is trading Wisniewski.
After the trade I was furious because I like the way Wisniewski plays. While still green in certain areas, he has a great upside and is only 26. Apparently after being rewarded more money in arbitration, the sticking point between Murray and Wisniewski was contract length. Murray said he offered Wiz a good four year deal that was not accepted. I can understand Murray not wanting to have to keep peddling out one and two year deals, so if Wiz doesn’t want to be here long term then you have to do what you have to do. My main problem is they traded him to the Islanders for basically next to nothing. A 3rd round pick in the next draft is hardly worth anything. More importantly it does nothing to help the Ducks currently as they give up one of their top defenseman for no defenseman in return. Murray says he has other things up his sleeve. He most certainly better, though it’s hard to imagine what that would be as most of the good defensemen are already gone.
The mostly likely scenario is that Murray raids the Canucks and their plethora of defensemen. The Canucks currently have nine D-men under contract, certainly way more than you need. At the top of Murray’s hit list is Kevin Bieksa who is signed only through the end of this year. The Ducks seem to be the front runner for Bieksa’s services but as more time drags on, one wonders if Murray will be able to put together a deal in order to acquire him. Currently the Ducks have three starters penciled in Visnovsky, Sheldon Brookbank and Toni Lydman. Andy Sutton, formerly of the Ottawa Senators, was also acquired but it’s not likely he will make the top six but you never know. Murray had said he was interested in leaving the last two spots open for the young talent. Other than Luca Sbisa, it’s highly unlikely any of the other young talent would be ready to step in. Here’s hoping that Murray is able to find another quality defenseman soon, also stayed tuned for any Kariya news.