As we all wait nervously for the announcement of Antti Niemi's arbitration ruling this afternoon, rumors of a deal for another goaltender surfaced yesterday afternoon.
The Score in Canada, along with other hockey sources, said that the Blackhawks have a one year, $1.5 million contract agreed to with former Stars goalie Marty Turco, should the Hawks be forced to walk away from Antti Niemi.
Niemi's camp is said to be asking for $4 million, while the Hawks camp
is said to be asking $2 million. Both sides know their respective
numbers are unrealistic. The ruling will likely be in the middle, so
let's call it $3 million. That is far too high of a number for the
Hawks to take on. Should the Hawks "win" the ruling with a number like,
say, $2.5 million, I think Niemi stays, but is that the right move?
While it's clear that Niemi has MUCH more upside than Turco, and is probably a better goalie at this point, he's not Patrick Roy. In my opinion, signing Turco to the rumored $1.5 million, and adding a defenseman in the mold of Jay McKee or Mike Mottau will put the Hawks in a better position to compete.
The Hawks #5 and #6 defensive spots are up in the air. Some combination of Jordan Hendry, John Scott, Ivan Vishnevskiy, and Shawn Lalonde will make up those spots at this point. To me, that's not good enough for a cup contender. The addition of a steady stay at home defenseman to fill in Brent Sopel's #5 role is important, but can't happen if Niemi stays.
Losing Niemi would be another tough loss for Hawk fans, who have already seen Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Adam Burish, Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, Colin Fraser and John Madden leave this summer, but Stan Bowman has been cold and businesslike this entire offseason. I'm sure he will do the same here.
To me, the right move is signing Turco and a defenseman. Let's see if Stan Bowman agrees.