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No reason for it to take as long as last year. This is a help to the Ducks.

Last season, it took months for Scott Niedermayer to decide whether he wanted to return to the NHL.

This time around, he's giving the Anaheim Ducks plenty of notice.

The veteran defenseman has decided to return to the NHL for the 2008-09 season, the final year of his current contract with the team.

"It's no secret what Scotty has meant to this organization over the past three years," Ducks general manager Brian Burke said in a statement. "Needless to say, we are thrilled he's returning to play for the upcoming season."

Niedermayer's agent, Kevin Epp, told reporters last week that his client had several discussions with general manager Brian Burke since the Ducks were eliminated by Dallas in the first round of the playoffs in April. Last summer, Niedermayer informed the Ducks in July that he was contemplating retirement and then decided to play two months into the season.

Niedermayer's return in December forced the Ducks to trade offensive forward Andy McDonald to St. Louis to free up room under the salary cap. Much of that cap space was taken up last July when Anaheim signed defenseman Mathieu Schneider to a two-year, $11.25 million contract as a contingency plan in the event Niedermayer didn't come back.

Niedermayer is a 16-year NHL veteran who won his fourth Stanley Cup title with the Ducks -- playing alongside his brother Rob -- in 2007 and was named the playoff MVP. Last season, he finished third among Ducks defensemen with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 48 games.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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