A Mighty big signing

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

One of the first things Rob Niedermayer probably will want to do is show his big brother Scott the sights of southern California.

After all, taking his sibling for a guided tour of Anaheim and surrounding area is the least Rob could do.

Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke claimed the biggest fish in the free agency ocean yesterday, signing Scott Niedermayer, one of the NHL's premier defencemen, to a four-year, $26.9-million US deal. Had Rob Niedermayer, a restricted free agent who signed a four-year, $8-million contract yesterday, not already been a member of the Ducks, it's doubtful Scott would have signed with the club.

"There were a few things, obviously the big one was that since I was 16 and he was 15, we've been apart, but now we can be together again," Scott Niedermayer said during a conference call. "The family can all come down. I just felt I wanted to have new challenges in life, do different things, try different things."

The Maple Leafs apparently entered the Niedermayer sweepstakes late in the process, but did not offer him the kind of money he will get from Anaheim.

Niedermayer, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman in 2003-04, spent 13 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, and won three Stanley Cups. So important was the idea of playing with Rob that Scott turned down an offer from the Devils that would have paid him $1 million more per season and with a fifth season tacked on.

"We did have a conversation (Wednesday) night when he told me, and as you can all imagine it was a difficult conversation from both parties," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said. "We've had him since he's been 18 and we've shared a lot of high times."

But Lamoriello, suddenly flush with a pile of cash, didn't waste time. On a day when the free-agency train that began chugging on Monday failed to lose steam, Lamoriello resigned defenceman Brian Rafalski and added free agent blueliners Dan McGillis and Vladimir Malakhov.

The Devils weren't the only Eastern Conference team to get in on the action. A day after signing defenceman Brian Leetch to a one-year pact, Boston Bruins GM Mike O'Connell signed centre Alexei Zhamnov to a three-year deal worth $12.3 million.

O'Connell lost in his bid to get Mike Modano, but has made a series of good moves that includes the additions of Zhamnov, Leetch, Dave Scatchard, Shawn McEachern and Brad Isbister and the re-signing of Glen Murray.

Leetch, who played 28 games in a Leafs uniform two seasons ago (15 in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs), spent one season at Boston College in the mid-1980s.

"I knew the Bruins had an opportunity to be aggressive in the market and they already had some good players to build around," Leetch said. "I'm at the end of my career. I'd like to play as long as I can, but it was important to me to be on a team that's going to be successful."

Among the other substantial players who changed teams yesterday were forward Martin Lapointe, who left the Bruins to sign a three-year, $7.2-million pact with the Chicago Blackhawks, and defenceman Teppo Numminen, who inked a one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres after most recently playing for the Dallas Stars.


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