Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/29/10 at 04:33 PM ET
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Within 48 hours, an arbitrator, who heard evidence from the Blackhawks and netminder Antti Niemi’s agent Thursday morning, will deliver a decision on just how much a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender is worth.
If the arbitrator decides Niemi’s worth much more than $3 million a year, Bowman may have no choice but to walk away from the decision, making Niemi an unrestricted free agent shortly before his 27th birthday.
The Blackhawks, already over the salary cap and facing a huge salary crunch before the start of training camp, will have 48 hours after the arbitrator’s decision to make up their minds.
There are rumors the ‘Hawks will accept the decision and then try and trade Niemi so they don’t end up losing a top asset without getting anything back in return. But the marketplace for goaltenders is soft to begin with, and any team dealing with the Blackhawks, let’s say Philadelphia or San Jose or Washington, all Cup contending teams that could use goaltending depth, will know they’ve got the team over a barrel and will be offering little in return.
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