Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Niedermayer suspended

The Ducks went through the formality of suspending Scott Niedermayer. He did not report to camp, which opened today. The move was to be expected and takes the captain's $6.75M salary off the books. GM Brian Burke now has the cap room to find a replacement for Teemu Selanne, a UFA who also has yet to decide on his retirement. (Burke effectively found a replacement for Niedermayer, albeit a lesser and older one, by signing Mathieu Schneider.)

The talk around town is Niedermayer will take some time off to recharge his batteries and return mid-season to guide the Ducks on another Stanley Cup run. Presumably, Burke will have to shed some of his new found cap space to welcome Niedermayer back from suspension.

Brings to mind the Ruotsalainen Rule. For those unfamiliar, Reijo Ruotsalainen was a small but fluid skater in the 1980s. Most notably he was a power play specialist for the Oilers when they won the Cup in 1987 and 1990. GM Glen Sather would let Ruotsalainen spend most of the season in Europe - a much lighter and less physical game schedule. He'd join Edmonton before their playoff run without the wear and tear of an NHL season. As a result, the league implemented a rule which requires European players to clear waivers in order to join their NHL club after opening night.

I can't really blame Burke if he's using Niedermayer's inevitable suspension to clear cap room while still retaining the future services of his star defenseman. It's perfectly within the rules of the CBA. But if in fact that's the case, look for the NHL to close the loophole. How's this for a "Niedermayer Rule": If a player returns from suspension mid-season, his entire salary counts against the cap?

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