The Blackhawks received some good news this afternoon when it was announced that goaltender Antti Niemi received a 1 year, 2.75 million dollar deal at arbitration.
This number is much lower than what was expected, as many felt it would be closer to $3.5 mil.
As recently as Saturday morning, Hawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz shared with fans at the team's annual convention that he had a "gut feeling" that the Hawks would not be able to afford Niemi. Luckily, Rocky was wrong. The Hawks can afford him at $2.75 million, and they would be foolish not to accept the offer.
We found out yesterday that the Hawks had a deal on the table for Marty Turco if the Hawks decided to walk away from the Niemi deal. Hopefully, that talk can now be put to rest.
It may take some more maneuvering to fit Niemi in, but it can be done. The only remaining option the Hawks have to shed salary is a trade of Tomas Kopecky, but even that might not be necessary.
The Hawks' next move depends on a few things. First, they have to decide if they're willing to ice a 20-man roster (the minimum). Second, they need to save a certain amount of cap space for emergency injury call-ups throughout the season. That's a tricky decision, as severity and amount of injuries is impossible to predict.
The upcoming season might be one full of risk-taking by upper management because of salary cap constraints, and that's fine. Like Bowman says, the team will be ready to go in October. At the end of the day, that's all that matters.
The Hawks know what they have in Niemi: A somewhat young, talented, mentally strong, Stanley Cup winning goaltender.
Keeping him at $2.75 million for at least one more year seems like a no-brainer.
Now it's time to see if Stan agrees.
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