Defenseman Scott Niedermayer ended a contract dispute that caused him to miss the first three weeks of the NHL season by signing a new multi-year deal with the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
Terms were not immediately available, but the two sides were only about $250,000 apart on a contract that would pay the seven-year veteran between $3.25 million and $3.5 million annually.
Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello declined to give details of the contract, except to say "it is more than one year."
"He's a Devil. He's going nowhere and we're delighted it's all worked out," he said in a conference call.
Niedermayer, who was a restricted free agent, has been playing for the Utah Grizzlies of the IHL for a little more than a week. He will fly to New Jersey on Saturday and will be ready to practice on Sunday, Lamoriello said.
Niedermayer's contract with the Grizzlies allowed him to leave anytime he reached a deal with the Devils. Niedermayer said he didn't make up his mind on the contract until Friday.
"I feel that I just made a decision, understanding all the different dynamics of what was going on, and there was a lot of them ... It was best for me to come back, get back with my teammates and have some fun on the ice."
Niedermayer, through his agent, initiated Friday's discussions, he and Lamoriello said.
The Devils as usual have struggled offensively, but not having their most offensive defenseman has hurt. New Jersey has 14 goals in eight games and not one has been scored by a defenseman.
Niedermayer, 25, had 14 goals and 43 assists last season, his best NHL year. The third pick overall in the 1991 Entry Draft, Niedermayer has 52 goals, 179 assists and a plus-68 plus-minus rating in 454 NHL games, all with New Jersey. He was a mmber of the Devils' Stanley Cup championship team in 1995.
Niedermayer said he is in shape to return after playing for the Grizzlies.
"If anything, playing those five games that I did will have my legs where they should be ... I feel good," he said.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved