The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed defenseman Francois Beauchemin away from the Ducks with a three-year contract worth $11.4 million.
Beauchemin increased his free-agent stock greatly by returning early from ACL surgery to appear in all 13 playoff games for the Ducks. The 29-year-old defenseman had one goal and 22 blocked shots in the postseason, the latter ranking third on the team. In 20 regular-season games prior to the injury, he contributed four goals and an assist.
In a conference call Monday afternoon, Beauchemin expressed a desire to step out of the shadow of Ducks defensemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. Niedermayer recently re-signed with the Ducks after Pronger was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I see it as a chance. I played with two of the best in Prongs and Scotty,” Beauchemin said. “I learned a lot watching them play and just coming to the rink … now it’s just for me to move from that and show what I can do.”
Still, he said that Anaheim was his first choice all along.
“When we didn’t get a word from them, we started looking,” he said.
In 246 career regular-season games, all but 12 with the Ducks, Beauchemin has 21 goals and 90 points. Though not a tall defenseman at 6-feet, his defensive toughness was unquestioned. Neither was his fighting ability; this scuffle during the playoffs
with Tomas Kopecky resulted in a season-ending injury to the Detroit Red Wings forward.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray said last week that Beauchemin’s asking price — which at the time was believed to be in the range of $4-5 million over four years — was “way out of my range.” Six defensemen are under contract for next season: Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney, Luca Sbisa, Sheldon Brookbank, Brian Salcido and Brendan Mikkelson.
Defenseman James Wisniewski has filed for salary arbitration, and the Ducks have also submitted a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Brett Festerling. The Ducks are roughly $12 million under the NHL salary cap of $56.8 million.