The International Hockey League's Utah Grizzlies have signed holdout New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer.
Grizzlies general manager Butch Goring signed Niedermayer to a 25-game contract on Monday. Niedermayer is a restricted free agent who, unhappy with the Devils' contract offers and his defensive role on one of the NHL's most conservative teams, has reportedly asked the Devils to trade him.
Niedermayer is expected to play in Utah's Wednesday game against the Milwaukee Admirals.
He is the second high-profile NHL player to sign in the IHL this season because of contract problems. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Petr Nedved is currently with the Las Vegas Thunder while continuing a holdout that began over a year ago.
Niedermayer, 25, is considered one of hockey's top two-way defensemen, but he struggled to assert his offensive game under coach Jacques Lemaire's restrictive trap system.
Last season, Niedermayer recorded career-highs with 14 goals, 43 assists and 57 points. He was the NHL's second-leading scorer among defensemen and was named to the league's second All-Star team.
He also played in the All-Star Game and finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting. The Cranbrook, British Columbia, native is considered one of the best skaters in hockey and is a former third overall draft pick by New Jersey.
With the departure of center Doug Gilmour to Chicago during the off-season, Niedermayer's offense figured to suffer even more this year despite Robbie Ftorek replacing Lemaire behind the Devils' bench.
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