Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/12/10 at 11:43 AM ET
from Michael Traikos ot the National Post,
Niemi earned US$827,000 this season. But after taking over the starting job from Cristobal Huet—Niemi went 26-7-4 with a 2.25 goals-against average in the regular season—the 26-year-old is looking to be paid like a No. 1 netminder after just one year in the league.
The question is: Even if Chicago agrees he is worth the money, can the team afford him?
The NHL’s salary cap is expected to be US$58.8-million next season. And the Blackhawks, who have 14 players signed through 2010-11, have already used up about US$58-million.
That does not include performance bonuses—such as the US$1.3-million bonus that captain Jonathan Toews earned for winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Already there has been talk of burying Huet (US$5.625-million) in the minors. And there are rumours that any or all of Patrick Sharp (US$3.9-million), Kris Versteeg (US$3.083-million) and Brent Sopel (US$2.3-million) could be traded. But expecting Niemi to bite the bullet and accept a discount, says Zito, is not an option.
“He’s going to get his money,” Zito said. “But the term is going to have something to do with it too.”
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