Teemu Selanne was the individual comeback story in the NHL last season with a rousing return to the Mighty Ducks capped by their appearance in the Western Conference finals.
Now he’s coming back.
Banking on a maturing, talented team that will enter next season with heightened expectations, Selanne officially re-signed with the Ducks on Tuesday for one year at $3.75 million.
Selanne returns for what amounts to a hometown discount. He could have commanded $5 million or more on the free-agent market after a 40-goal, 50-assist season that put him among the league’s scoring leaders.
General Manager Brian Burke said negotiations with Selanne and his agent, Don Baizley, were “uncomplicated” and a deal was essentially agreed upon Sunday morning.
“This is a player that wanted to stay here and made some concessions financially to do that,” Burke said.
Speaking from his home in Finland, Selanne said, “I wanted to make sure that I’m going to play in a place that makes me happy and enjoy hockey. Some things are priceless. The biggest thing is I want to win. We have a special team here and we have a chance.”
With a reconstructed left knee, Selanne made good on a bargain $1-million, one-year contract he signed last August.
Although he’ll be 36 on July 3, Selanne said he would have considered retiring only if the Ducks had won the Stanley Cup.
The Ducks, meanwhile, will probably let unrestricted free agents Ruslan Salei and Jeff Friesen test the market. Salei, a 31-year-old defenseman, is seeking a three-year contract above his 2005-06 salary of $1.824 million.
“I told him, ‘There’s no hard feelings. Go see if you can get it,’ ” Burke said.
The Ducks expect to enter the 2006-07 season with a $38-million budget, according to Burke. That is about $5 million below where the adjusted league salary cap is expected to fall.
Burke said the team still lost more than $15 million because a larger share of the revenues from their seven home playoff games went to the league for revenue sharing. But that won’t prevent the Ducks from being active in free agency, he said.
The budget “will allow me to keep my team together and go after a player,” Burke said.
As for goaltenders Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Ilya Bryzgalov, Burke said he intended to speak with them in the next few days.
With Bryzgalov, 26, the probable goalie of the future, the high-priced Giguere has been the subject of trade rumors. Detroit, Tampa Bay and Toronto are among those seeking an upgrade in the net.