Number 4: Scott Niedermayer
The offseason of 2005 brought many changes to the NHL. Fresh off a full season lockout, the Mighty Ducks looked to make a serious move, and in doing so signed smooth skating free agent defenceman Scott Niedermayer to a four-year contract.
Scott was coming off 12 seasons with the New Jersey Devils where he had won nearly everything under the sun. He came to Anaheim with a World Junior Gold Medal, a Memorial Cup Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, a Norris Trophy, a World Championship Gold Medal, a World Cup Gold Medal. Oh, and three Stanley Cup rings as well.
The Edmonton, Alberta native was immediately named Mighty Ducks captain before even playing a regular season game. He finished his first season in Anaheim with 63 regular season points, which was good enough for third highest on the team behind only Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald, and most among defenceman. He added 11 points in the playoffs that year as the Mighty Ducks made a run to the Western Conference Finals, but eventually fell at the feet of the Edmonton Oilers.
Scott followed up that season with an even more impressive 2006-2007 campaign where he finished with 69 points in 79 regular season games as he led the newly named Anaheim Ducks to fourth in the league with 110 points. Some of his best moments, though, came in that year’s playoffs.
Most memorable of those moments was when he and brother Rob teamed up to score the double-overtime goal in Game Five of the second round against the Vancouver Canucks, helping Anaheim advance to the Conference Finals.
Scott later added the overtime game-winner in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals to help the Ducks tie the series at one game apiece.
Niedermayer finished those playoffs with 11 points and averaged just under 30 minutes a game, as the Anaheim Ducks won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Scott also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for the Most Valuable Player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He began the 2007-2008 season on the sideline as he was deciding whether to retire or continue to play hockey; many thought his NHL career was done. He decided to return and played in 48 games that season, notching 25 points.
He finished off his Ducks’ and NHL career with 59 and 48 points in his final two seasons respectively before hanging up his skates for good.
Scott Niedermayer will go down as one of the most decorated players in NHL history, but also one of the best Anaheim Ducks to ever lace up for the franchise. Even though Scott only played five seasons for the franchise, what he managed to do in those five years was what puts him at number four on our list. Not only did he captain the team to the Stanley Cup and win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2007, what also sticks out about Scott is how he helped develop the later wave of Ducks’ players, in specific Cam Fowler (I guess that is why he has been a development coach for the team for the past 3 years).
Scott will officially tie a bow on his Ducks legacy when his number 27 will be lifted to the rafters on February 17th. No matter how you view him, whether that be as a “true” Duck or not, none of us will ever forget the time the Ducks captain was told to come up and hoist the team’s first ever Stanley Cup.
* Statistics taken from eliteprospects.com, www.hockey-reference.com, and nhl.com.