Anaheim- The return of Anaheim Ducks' defenseman Scott Niedermayer is big news for his NHL team and even bigger news for fantasy owners. It will also have a big impact on the thousands of fantasy hockey league drafts we'll see in the coming months.
Niedermayer, the 2004 winner of the James Norris Trophy as best defenseman and the 2007 winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the NHL's most valuable player in the playoffs, is still an elite NHL defenseman.
While a return to the 60 point plateau he reached in his first two years in California is probably a little bit much to hope for, the 34 year-old is probably a safe bet to record at least 50 points. That would put him among the top 10 scoring blueliners in the league, based on 2007-08 stats.
With a talented lineup around him including the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Chris Pronger and probably even Teemu Selanne; the advantage of playing for one of the League's elite teams; and loads of power-play time, the perennial all-star should be rated in the top 8-10 defenseman available come fantasy draft time.
This would make him a late third round or fourth round selection in a draft from scratch format. In a keeper league, depending on the format and players available, the former Ducks' captain could go as early as round 1.
Niedermayer's availability could also make it easier for you to pick up one of the great young defensemen that will be available. Players like Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian and Alex Pietrangelo could well fall a spot or two with an established veteran like Niedermayer on the board.
Of course, the guys really smiling today are the keeper league owners who had Niedermayer on their roster at the end of last season and were expecting to have a big hole to fill on the blue line. With number 27 back in the fold, those lucky owners will be able to address other needs.
So no matter what type of fantasy league you're involved in, you can be sure that today's news out of Anaheim will make your draft day even more interesting.