On Wednesday night, the day before Saku Koivu was set to become an unrestricted free agent, Ducks general manager Bob Murray thought that Koivu was a goner.
The 35-year-old center admitted today that he had other offers from other teams, but “the package and everything that Anaheim had to offer was by far the best option for me and my family on the hockey side, and off the ice.
“It wasn’t financially the best offer, but for us it was the best fit,” Koivu said.
Time will tell just how critical his decision was. It could be huge.
The two-year, $5 million contract Koivu agreed to Thursday not only gives the Ducks the most reliable second-line center they’ve had since Andy MacDonald was traded three years ago, it also gives them an edge in coaxing Teemu Selanne back for one more season.
Koivu said that he and Selanne, who have both returned to Finland for the summer (and share an agent, Don Baizley), have spoken every day for the last week. He confirmed earlier reports that Selanne is training to stay in shape for a possible 18th NHL season.
“I spoke to him last night after I signed,” Koivu said. “He was happy about it. He didn’t know what’s going to happen.
“Whatever happens with me, it’s going to have an effect (on his decision). I hope it’s going to have a positive effect and we’ll see him back. … I can’t say yes or no, but hopefully having Toni (Lydman) and myself on the team is going to make that little push we need to get him back.”
Koivu acknowledged that recently retired defenseman Scott Niedermayer is “irreplaceable.” But he also sounded optimistic about the direction of the Ducks, saying “it’s not going to be easy, but with the young guys we have, (Toni) Lydman, and hopefully Teemu, I think we can have a good team.”