Not long after signing Jeff Deslauriers to a one-year contract north of 1M (which will see JDD reach free agency next summer), word comes that the Chicago Blackhawks have walked away from Antti Niemi’s arbitration award of 2.75M. The Oilers have three roster goalies already available for 2 slots, and have 5.6M tied up in Faith, Hope and Charity.
This suggest all kinds of conclusions: Stan Bowman may be as good a GM as his Dad; Chicago believes Marty Turco can carry a major workload and win them a Stanley (you don’t make this move to save a million and lose the Stanley); the Edmonton Oilers might be in the market for a 4th goalie on an NHL contract.
In terms of Bowman, I don’t think this is a terribly wise move. You’ve ripped up the roster like an Edmonton road construction crew in August and now you flush the goalie who stood in the net for the 16W’s? Hmmm.
Turco is 34 and likely exiting the prime of his career (this past season was a recovery year), and Niemi is about 8 years younger and should have excellent seasons down the line.
As for the Oilers, I don’t think they’ll be in the mix for Niemi. It’s too soon in the rebuild to bring in a proven goaltender, and if you do that then you’re sure as hell going to improve the blue, the C and the wings.
My guess is Philly for Niemi. They saw him good not long ago.