The Ducks announced today they have signed defenseman James Wisniewski to a one-year contract. Per club policy, no financial terms of the deal were disclosed.
“James Wisniewski was a big part of our team’s turnaround last season,” said Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “Being only 25 years old, we expect him to continue improving and make a large impact on our team going forward.”
Wisniewski, 25 (2/21/84), appeared in 48 games with Anaheim and Chicago in 2008-09, scoring 3-21=24 points with a +9 rating and 30 penalty minutes (PIM). Establishing a career high in assists last season, Wisniewski was acquired by Anaheim with Petri Kontiola from Chicago in exchange for Samuel Pahlsson, Logan Stephenson and a conditional pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft on Mar. 4. Following his acquisition, Anaheim went 11-5-1 in the final 17 games of the season. He completed the regular season with eight assists in his last nine games. He matched a career high for assists in a game with three on Mar. 25 vs. Colorado. Wisniewski also made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut with Anaheim in 2009, scoring 1-2=3 points in 10 contests. He collected his first career playoff point with an assist in Game 2 of the Conference Quarterfinals on Apr. 19 at San Jose.
With Chicago, the 6-0, 207-pound defenseman established a single-game career high with three assists in his 2008-09 season debut on Dec. 16 at Edmonton. Wisniewski missed the first 28 games of the season with a knee injury. The Canton, MI native established career highs in goals (7), points (26) and games played (68) in 2007-08.
He registered a single-game best 1-2=3 points on Oct. 31, 2007 at Dallas. Wisniewski made his NHL debut in 2005-06, recording his first point (assist) on Feb. 8, 2006 at San Jose.
Selected by Chicago in the fifth round (156th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Wisniewski has collected 14-53=67 points with a +24 rating and 208 PIM in 185 career NHL games. He has recorded a plus-or-even rating in each of his four NHL seasons. Playing his junior hockey with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he ranked third among defensemen in OHL scoring for the 2003-04 season, earning 17-53=70 points in 50 contests. Wisniewski has appeared for Team USA on multiple occasions, winning the Gold Medal at three different levels (World Under-17 Challenge in 2001, Under-18 World Junior Championship in 2002 and Under-20 World Junior Championship in 2002).
Wisniewski took part in a media conference call Monday afternoon. Following is a transcript:
On signing the new deal
It’s sometimes rough going off a whole bunch of one-year deals. I can understand where Bob (Murray) and the Ducks are coming from. They want to see me play a full season of injury-free hockey. That is what I have to do and then hopefully I can become a Duck for a long time after that.On avoiding arbitration
You always want to come to an agreement and not have a middle party do that for you. It just shows confidence in yourself and confidence the organization has in you to be able to come up with an agreement that seems fair. You go from there. There are no hard feelings are anything like that.On the Ducks’ current defense
I just look at it like more ice time for me. Obviously, losing a Hall-of-Famer in Chris Pronger, who is a leader and a Stanley Cup winner, it’s going to be a big blow. But getting a 25-goal scorer in Joffrey Lupul and a young defenseman, I think that is where the Ducks are coming from right now. It’s not really a rebuilding year, but starting fresh with some new guys and new, young talent. Losing Francois Beauchemin
, who was a big part of the Stanley Cup run, that can happen when you become an unrestricted free agent. You want to stay with the team that you came up with, but sometimes it’s a little bit of business and you have to go where it’s going to help your family.
I think me coming into my fifth year, Whitney coming into his fifth, sixth year, Scott Niedermayer who can skate all day long, signing a veteran defenseman in Nick Boynton, Sheldon Brookbank
, Luca Sbisa
, Brendan Mikkelson, Brett Festerling, you have a lot of guys back there that I think are ready to make the jump and ready to take on the challenges.On what he likes most about the team going into next season
You have to look at our goaltending. People might questions our defense, but I would have to beg to differ. All six d-men can skate and move the puck. You have four great lines up front. We have two absolutely fantastic scoring lines, a great checking line and a grinding line. That is exactly what you need to win championships. You’re always looking to win the Stanley Cup every year. That is the goal for everybody. I think the organization has put it into our hands and given us the tools to do so.On his comfort level coming to Anaheim last season at the trade deadline
Coming over for Samuel Pahlsson, I think Anaheim saw something in me that Chicago lacked. Right away they put me with Scott Niedermayer, a future Hall-of-Famer. That was a big step and an honor. They looked at me right away to come up and play big, important minutes. When a team does that to you, you just feed off that and you generate the confidence that you have to play and why you made it there. It was really exciting to come and be a part of a team coming from 12th place to make the playoffs, then knocking out San Jose and taking Detroit to a Game 7. It was quite an accomplishment and really fun to be a part of. I’m glad I can come back for at least one more year.On his past injuries
It’s never had anything to do with how good I’ve been in shape. I’ve always come into Chicago’s camp in the top five in the fitness training and the test. I think it’s just more of bad luck. The first injury was when I was 18. It was a fluke thing in Slovakia playing with the USA team. The second one, it was the same thing. The third one was due to a fight where I stepped on a stick. You can’t help that. That is not saying my knees are bad. You step on a stick and slightly tear it. I was in the offseason training with the Blackhawks trainer and doing an exercise that I probably shouldn’t have been doing, I fell wrong on my knee and it popped again. I’m of the opinion that all bad things happen in three and hopefully I’m done with mine. Last year after coming back, I played 64 games injury free, except the puck to the lung. That again was another fluke instance. I was pretty much healthy when I got back into the lineup.