They may no longer be the "Mighty" Ducks in name, but the return of one mighty Duck certainly makes their blue line formidable again.
Scott Niedermayer has decided to stop fooling himself (he didn't have us fooled) and end his pseudo-retirement. When I say "didn't have us fooled," I am referring to the 93 percent of ESPN leagues where Niedermayer is already owned. So, this isn't a call for everyone to rush to the waiver wire to see if Niedermayer is available. Because he is probably not.
This is more of a pat-on-the-back for the owners out there who now have a top-5 defenseman that may have come free of charge. I know Niedermayer hit the wire in all my leagues at some point this season, but he's been owned since reports of him "skating with the team" surfaced about a month ago.
So, if I'm telling you his return doesn't do much for most fantasy owners, it begs the question: what is the impact? Well, Francois Beauchemin is the big loser in Anaheim. Beauchemin has been logging a ton of ice time at even-strength and I don't expect that to change, but his 4:53 average on the power play is going to drop.
Chris Pronger, Mathieu Schneider and Niedermayer will have pecking order on the man-advantage, and coach Randy Carlyle likes to use Ryan Getzlaf as a point man, as well. Cut into Beauchemin's four power-play assists, and he becomes a No. 5 or 6 defenseman instead of a No. 4.
There are winners on the Ducks, as well, including Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Giggy will benefit from having one of the fastest blue-liners in the league logging 30 minutes a game. Speedy forwards like Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz will benefit from Niedermayer's breakout passes. I don't expect a world of change for the forwards, but one more offensively minded guy on the blue line certainly can't hurt.
Perhaps the biggest question remaining is about Teemu Selanne. Selanne and Niedermayer were reportedly pretty close and discussed their offseason plans with each other. With Niedermayer back, there is now a chance Selanne will follow him.
If you own Niedermayer, sit back and enjoy the fact you just inherited a top-5 defenseman. If you don't own Niedermayer, you may get an opportunity to go after him. As I said, he has reportedly been working out up to this point, but he is still going to need time to get his game legs back.
I suspect there will be a window of opportunity in late December or early January when current owners will start to second guess whether Niedermayer is still a top player. That's when you can swoop in and steal him in a trade and watch him take off for the final three months of the season.
Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can Email him here.