The Anaheim defense has experienced some significant changes in the past year. Gone are Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin; In are Ryan Whitney, Luca Sbisa and Nick Boynton. In terms of toughness and physicality, it's a night-and-day transformation, but an upgrade in terms of youth and long-term potential (while also stocking the cupboard with draft picks).
One player that's returning, at least for the short-term, is 17-year veteran Scott Niedermayer. The 35-year-old is coming back for at least one more season after signing a one-year deal worth over $6 million earlier this offseason. He talked about his decision to return to the Ducks with our Susan Slusser in early July.
Draft Year: 1991
The third overall pick in 1991 -- after Eric Lindros and Pat Falloon -- Niedermayer is one of just seven players from that first round still active in the NHL. He's played more games (1,183) than any player taken that year.
Why He's On My List
A world-class skater, and a workhorse when it comes to ice time (he averages nearly 27 minutes per game, even at the age of 35), Niedermayer has been one of the best defensemen in the league since he made his debut in 1992. He's won four Stanley Cups, a Norris Trophy and the 2006-07 Conn Smythe Award. His age hasn't slowed him down, as his three best seasons -- statistically -- have all come within the past four years, including this past seasons 59-point performance when the Ducks advanced to the Western Conference Semifinal.
Obligatory YouTube Video
A fine example of Niedermayer's puck-rushing abilities as he takes it coast-to-coast in Game 2 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings.