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Ducks Go After Devils’ Niedermayer

Times Staff Writer

The Mighty Ducks, who have yet to jump in the wild NHL free-agent signing bonanza, have set their sights on New Jersey star defenseman Scott Niedermayer and are trying to land the Norris Trophy winner.

Niedermayer’s agent, Kevin Epp, said the Ducks are among the finalists for the 31-year-old three-time All-Star, considered to be one of the jewels of the star-studded free-agent class because of his skating and puck-handling ability. The signing period for unrestricted free agents began Monday.

A source familiar with the team said Niedermayer was in Anaheim on Wednesday and is seeking a four-year contract worth $6.7 million a year. Epp said his client has expressed strong interest to play with his brother Rob, a center with the Ducks the last two seasons.

“He has a lot of interest in being a Duck,” Epp said. “Any time you can play with your brother in a nice environment in a nice city where it’s a good place to raise your kids, I think it has to be a good thing.”

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General Manager Brian Burke, who was returning from a speaking engagement in Colorado, could not be reached for comment and a team spokesman would not comment on the negotiations. The Ducks have about $10.6 million to spend under the new $39-million salary cap.

New Jersey and San Jose reportedly have offered similar contracts, and Niedermayer is expected to make a decision as soon as today.

Niedermayer has spent his 12-year career with the Devils and helped them to three Stanley Cup titles. Had there been a 2004-05 season, he would have made $7 million following a salary arbitration ruling last summer.

Niedermayer, who has 112 goals and 364 assists, played with his brother for Canada in the 2004 world championships and against him in the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, which the Devils won in seven games.

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