The NHL's arbitration process has chugged along in relative anonymity the past few weeks, with most players and their teams coming to terms before their hearing dates. One case worth watching, however, is that of Chicago Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi.
Niemi's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Toronto, and neither the player nor the team expect a settlement before it takes place. Niemi has played just 39 career regular-season games, but was one of the heroes in Chicago's Stanley Cup win this spring in going 16-6 in the postseason.
The problem, however, is that the Blackhawks are incredibly tight against the salary cap, even after shuttling out a half-dozen members of their championship team. An arbitration award of $3-million (U.S.) or more to Niemi may force Chicago GM Stan Bowman to think long and hard about walking away and signing a veteran free agent such as Marty Turco or Jose Theodore for less.
If the Blackhawks pass on Niemi's arbitration award, he will become an unrestricted free agent.
Other pending arbitration cases include:
- Thursday Andrew Ladd, Atlanta Thrashers
- Thursday Antti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks
- Friday Ian White, Calgary Flames
- Friday Peter Regin, Ottawa Senators
- Tuesday James Wisniewski, Anaheim Ducks
- Tuesday Ben Eager, Atlanta
- Wednesday Jeff Deslauriers, Edmonton Oilers
- Wednesday Chris Campoli, Ottawa