A salary arbitrator has handsomely rewarded Chicago Blackhawks’ Antti Niemi after reportedly granting the goalie a decision worth US $2.75 million.
Niemi, who helped lead the club to their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years, had earned only $800,000 last season despite going 26-7-4 for the ‘Hawks and bouncing Cristobal Huet as the starting goaltender in Chicago.
“People forget that he filed for arbitration. We didn't,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said on Friday. “He wanted the assurance that he would have a contract as opposed to negotiations.
"We've got ideas in place, we'll just wait and see how it plays out."
The club has 48 hours to respond to the arbitrator's ruling by either accepting the decision and signing him to the $2.75 million; accepting the decision and then trading him; or leaving the offer on the table, which would make Niemi an unrestricted free agent.
The decision, if accepted by the Blackhawks, will leave the club with very little wiggle-room under the current NHL salary cap of $59.4 million.