So the Blackhawks will try to defend their Stanley Cup title with Marty Turco and Corey Crawford as their goaltenders.
The decision on Monday to walk away from Antti Niemi’s $2.75 million arbitration award and sign Turco to a one-year contract shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering general manager Stan Bowman’s comments on Sunday and the fact the Hawks had serious salary cap issues.
I have no problem with Turco coming aboard. I like his athleticism and the way he handles the puck. Does he have much left at age 35? Why wouldn’t he?
Will the Hawks miss Niemi? Probably. He was terrific last season, especially in the playoffs, and has the potential to be a great goalie. Do we know for sure that he’ll turn out to be another Dominik Hasek? No, we don’t, and that’s a risk the Hawks are willing to take.
Unfortunately for Niemi, the Hawks had to play hardball with somebody over money and he just happened to the in the wrong place at the wrong time as the last guy in line.
It hurt Niemi and the Hawks badly when San Jose signed Niklas Hjalmarsson to that four-year, $14 million offer sheet. While the Hawks matched, it cost them probably $1 million or more than they expected to pay Hjalmarsson. That was the money needed to keep Niemi.
Should Bowman have acted sooner to get Hjalmarsson signed? Probably. He misread the situation when he told reporters on June 30 that offer sheets don’t happen. An offer sheet happened and while the Hawks were able to keep Hjalmarsson, it cost them Niemi in the end.