Anaheim Ducks Best And Worst Free Agency Signings

Anaheim Ducks free agent signings
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Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s 2022 summer series, exploring the best and worst free agent signings for each NHL team of the post-lockout, salary cap era. With this past offseason seeing some big splashes (and potential gambles) like Johnny Gaudreau, Claude Giroux, John Klingberg, and others, it’s time to take a look at how teams have boosted and stunted their progress in recent history. Today, we take a look at the best and worst Anaheim Ducks free agent signings.

Anaheim Ducks Free Agent Hits and Misses

There are a lot of deals we could look at, but this will be limited to the two best, and the two worst Anaheim Ducks free agent signings. For the best, we will look at some of the key pieces that helped the Ducks win the 2007 Stanley Cup. For the worst, we will look at the contracts of Clayton Stoner, and Dany Heatley, who never panned out when playing for the Ducks, and would actually be both of their final NHL teams.

NHL free agent frenzy

Best Signing: Scott Niedermayer

Most of the Anaheim Ducks Reebok jerseys floating around online for sale will usually have one of three names; Getzlaf, Selanne, or Niedermayer, and for a very good reason. After spending almost the entirety of his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils, Niedermayer signed as a free agent with the Ducks in the 2005 off-season, agreeing to a 4 year, $27 million deal with the Ducks, paying Niedermayer $6.75 million a year. In the following seasons that he spent with the Ducks, Niedermayer recorded 264 points in 371 games, and led the Ducks to the Stanley Cup, winning the Conn Smythe trophy in the process.

While the signing was a great one, the Ducks did have a distinct advantage over the other teams looking to acquire Niedermayer. His brother Rob played on the Ducks and Scott could not pass up an opportunity to play (and win) with his brother.
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Best Signing Honourable Mention: Teemu Selanne

Between stints with the Anaheim Ducks, Selanne spent time with the San Jose Sharks, and the Colorado Avalanche, in the hopes of winning a Stanley Cup. After those stints, he decided to join the Ducks once again, on a one-year, $1 million contract for the 2005-2006 season. After that, he continued to re-sign one-year deals with Anaheim, finally winning a Stanley Cup in 2007 with the team he spent the most time with.

Once he returned to the Ducks, Teemu Selanne recorded 506 points in 576 games, spending another nine years with the Ducks organization on top of the six he had already spent with the team. The fact that the Ducks signed a 90-point player for only a million dollars is an absolute steal and was an absolute masterclass of a deal by GM Brian Burke.

Worst Signing: Clayton Stoner

Wanting to add some toughness and grit to the roster, the Ducks signed defenseman Clayton Stoner to a four-year deal beginning in the 2014-2015 NHL season. Now that may not sound so bad, while Stoner didn’t have a goal-scoring touch, his career high was a 10-point season he was not acquired to put up points. He was a stay-at-home defenceman looking to prevent the opposition from scoring as well as provided some toughness and sandpaper to the lineup. Unfortunately for Stoner and the Ducks things did not work out as planned. Known as a tough guy, Stoner stopped being as physical and therefore his effectiveness was limited.

Not what the Ducks had in mind when they signed him to a $13 million dollar contract. The kicker is the Ducks wanted him off the team so badly, that they agreed to trade Shea Theodore to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights if they selected Stoner in the expansion draft in 2017.
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Worst Signing Honourable Mention: Dany Heatley

This may be a complete surprise, but Dany Heatley never really panned out as a Duck. Of course, this was near the end of his career and injuries had finally caught up to him. Up until this point, Danny Heatley has had an up and down yet illustrious career. He scored back-to-back 50-goal seasons, back-to-back 100-plus point seasons, a trip to the Stanley Cup final with the Ottawa Senators, and much more. But, he played only six games with Anaheim on a one-year, one million dollar deal. In those six games, he recorded no points with a -3. He then spent 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals, and 18 games with the San Antonio Rampage. All that on a one million dollar cap hit. Yikes.

In the end, the Ducks don’t have a lot of really bad misses in the post-lockout era. While the ones they hit on helped them clinch a Stanley Cup victory in 2007. While the Ryan Strome and John Klingberg deals are too early to analyze, the odds of it working out with Anaheim seem to be in their favour.