Some players around the League find themselves at a career crossroad. A crossroad with tough decisions to make regarding ongoing speculation of their final season. Speculation whether to stay on a sinking ship and finish at the bottom of the sea or leaving one’s comfort zone in an attempt to stay on top. Certainly no easy decision for any player
While Scott Niedermayer ponders his future in hockey he continues another solid year in his famed career. The same cannot be said for the Anaheim Ducks, who sit 13th in the Western Conference despite coming off a come from behind victory against the Colorado Avalanche. The team finds themselves as of this writing a mere five points behind the eighth seed.
The asking price for the captain should be reasonable, as he would strictly be a playoff rental. However, GM Brian Murray can acquire a potential piece or pieces to build for a brighter future in sunny Anaheim.
A quick look around the league shows there are a few teams in need of Niedermayer’s services. At 37, he still is one of the best defensemen in the game and a huge piece for a few teams looking for that extra push into serious cup contention.
Lets take a closer look at which teams could trade for Niedermayer in order to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup. Even though he already carries four Stanley Cup rings to his credit, every player in this league starts the season with one goal in mind.
That goal will not happen in Anaheim, however there are teams with the ability to give Scotty one last crack at putting his name on the cup for the fifth time.
Here are our list of possible suitors:
Washington Capitals – The Caps possess quite the offensive threat when looking at the roster. Outside of Alexander Ovechkin, names like Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Tomas Fleischmann, Niklas Backstrom and Mike Green make the team very scary to play against. On the other hand, when looking at the blue line, fear certainly is not the word I would use. When Tom Poti slots into your shut down pairing, the defense can be labeled questionable at best.
Similarly, with the knowledge of Niedermayer not returning, the veteran could be acquired without requiring a hefty price tag. A clever GM George McPhee should package a suitable enough offer to bring Scott to Washington. Looking at the aforementioned names with Niedermayer added into the mix will strike fear in the rest of the Eastern Conference.
New Jersey Devils – Chris Daughtry said it best in his song home, “I’m going home, to the place where I belong, where your love has always been enough for me.” Uncle Lou knows he has a team capable of topping the Eastern Conference. Martin Brodeur can carry the workload on his own, but down the stretch there is a certain comfort level teams will be looking to get to.
With brother Rob Niedermayer already signed with the Devils would Scott move to once again play with him? Rob convinced his brother in the past to sign with Anaheim. Although Paul Martin, Andy Greene, Johnny Oduya and Bryce Salvador provide serviceable defense for the Devils back end, this writer does not foresee a problem with roles. By adding the veteran and leader into the mix the outcome appears SCARY. The Devils have the pieces and Lou Lamoriello knows how to make the magic happen. Do not be surprised if Scott comes back home, where he belongs.
Los Angeles Kings – Although a massive stretch considering their division rivalry, stranger things have happened. Veterans Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi and Sean O’Donnell currently provide a veteran presence amont a very solid blue line. The Kings find amazing chemistry up and down the line up as the team plays as a whole.
Knowing that the Ducks will not play Niedermayer six times next season, GM Dean Lombardi possesses the pieces to acquire the veteran’s services. An instant upgrade over most of the names considered this trade would turn the team into an instant contender. How does the saying go? Oh that’s right, ‘If Wayne Gretzky could be traded anything is possible.’
Chicago Blackhawks – The young nucleus of Chicago ranks up there with the Pittsburgh Penguins due to some great drafting following a few bad seasons. These bad seasons proved invaluable for the young, growing team.
Last year’s learning experience in the playoffs helped the Hawks turn this season into one where they are being taken as a serious cup contender. Sure there are the question marks surrounding the goaltending but to this point the two netminders held the fort allowing the fewest goals in the league to date. With a plethora of young, talented blue liners, Niedermayer should enhance this great team. Still due to cap restrictions, GM Stan Bowman could have trouble fitting Niedermayer under the cap making this acquisition more trouble than he is worth.
Philadelphia Flyers – The team in the middle of all the rumors. GM Paul Holmgren assembled this Flyers roster to contend for the Cup, not a losing season. Although there is plenty of turmoil surrounding the team the talent and skill can not be denied until they officially fall out of contention. Until this team announces a rebuild, the team remains a strong candidate to improve via trade.
With former teammate Chris Pronger already on board, and signed for the rest of his career, this rumor could become reality for Philadelphia. If the team slips back into the playoff hunt, Holmgren will attempt bringing in Niedermayer to close out the season and make a run for the Cup.
However, the Flyers are another team with cap problems.
Moves could clear some cap in order to bring in another piece. Once Ray Emery returns from injury, subsequently putting all goaltending rumors to rest, defense will be the biggest issue in Philadelphia. This reporter would not be surprised at all if the Niedermayer to Philly rumors run wild in 2010.
At the end of December, there is a ton of hockey left to play with nothing set in stone. Come February and the trade deadline, be prepared to see that every thing I have mentioned will have more of a solid backing. This season marks the last for Niedermayer.
Does anyone really think he will not want to still be skating in April? I beg to differ.
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