Chicago Sun-Times

July 2010 Archives

Antti Niemi's fate is now in the hands of Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and the rest of the team's brass.

An arbitrator awarded the Stanley Cup-winning goaltender a $2.75 million salary for next season on Saturday. The Hawks have 48 hours to decide whether to accept the award, walk away or trade Niemi.

It was believed that Niemi's camp was looking for an amount above $3 million. So keeping Niemi in the fold is now a real option for the Hawks, who most likely were after an award close to $2 million.

Stay tuned for more.

As the Blackhawks' annual three-day convention plays out, Antti Niemi's worth will be determined and announced.

The Hawks and Niemi's camp met Thursday morning in Toronto at his scheduled arbitration hearing. Both sides stated their cases and made their arguments.

"The arbitrator will make the ruling I believe some time Saturday," Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said Friday. "At that point, we have 48 hours in which to accept the award or walk away from the award, or trade the award. It will be one of those three scenarios, which will ultimately happen.

"It will depend on what the number is."

Niemi's camp is believed to be looking in the $3 million-plus range, while the Hawks most likely prefer to keep his salary around $2 million.

Niemi is certainly an interesting case. He went 16-6 in the postseason with two shutouts, a .910 save percentage and 2.63 goals-against average. He also stood out in the regular season, going 26-7-4 with seven shutouts, a .912 save percentage and 2.25 GAA.

But Niemi, who made $826,875 in 2009-10, only has played in 42 regular-season games in his career.

Bryan Bickell just wanted to prove he belonged in the NHL with the Blackhawks. That's what he repeatedly said as he became the player most often recalled from the Rockford IceHogs last season.

Bickell, a 6-4, 223-pound winger, did just that. Bickell and the Hawks have agreed to a three-year, one-way deal worth a total of $1,625,000, a source told the Sun-Times. He will make $500,000 this coming season and $525,000 and $600,000 the following years.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman pulled the trigger on another salary-cap motivated trade on Thursday. But this time it doesn't involve waving goodbye to a key player from the Hawks' Stanley Cup run.

The Hawks traded center Marty Reasoner to the Florida Panthers in exchange for center Jeff Taffe. Reasoner was acquired in the deal that sent Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel to the Atlanta Thrashers on June 24.

dvd2.jpg


Warner Home Video's Official "2010 Stanley Cup Champions" DVD hits the shelves and stacks of area stores Tuesday -- and there will be some autograph signings for fans to kick off its arrival.

Skille.jpgJack Skille has been mentioned multiple times by Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman as having a chance to play a bigger role in 2010-11.

Skille, a restricted free agent, just needed to be signed. Now, that appears to be done. The Hawks and Skille's camp have agreed upon a one-year deal, a source said.

Update: The deal is worth $600,000. That's a big difference than his cap hit of more than $1 million the past few years. That inflated cap hit was a reason why Skille didn't see much time with the Hawks.

beach.jpgFormer first-round pick Kyle Beach lived up to his reputation of being a talented player that plays on the edge during this year's prospect camp.

Beach fought John Kurtz on the opening day and then got into two scraps with a much smaller Mathis Olimb.

nik.jpgThe Blackhawks weren't about to let the San Jose Sharks -- their stiffest competition in the Western Conference -- steal promising defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.

General manager Stan Bowman said Monday that the Hawks will match the four-year, $14 million offer sheet the Sharks signed Hjalmarsson to last Friday.

The San Jose Sharks have signed Niklas Hjalmarsson -- a key part of the Blackhawks' defensive corps -- to an offer sheet worth $14 million over four years.

It's been speculated for weeks that assistant coach John Torchetti would leave the Blackhawks for the Atlanta Thrashers.

It became official on Thursday.

Hawks goalie Antti Niemi filed for arbitration Monday. Hearings will be held in Toronto from July 20 to Aug. 4. Here is the list of the 31 players who filed for arbitration:

keith.jpgDuncan Keith will serve as Grand Marshal of the LifeLock.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 10.

"The Blackhawks captivated the entire city and country with their Stanley Cup-winning run and our fans will love to bring Blackhawk fever to the race," Craig Rust, president of Chicagoland Speedway/Route 66 Raceway, said in a statement. "We are honored to have him join us and help us get things going for the Lifelock.com 400."

Keith won the Norris Trophy this year as the league's best defenseman. He is the only player to win a gold medal, the Stanley Cup and the Norris Trophy in the same year.

Keith will give the order of "Gentlemen, start your engines!"

ladd3.jpgThe Hawks traded restricted free agent Andrew Ladd to the Atlanta Thrashers Thursday -- the opening day of free agency -- for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a second-round pick in 2011 and also watched unrestricted free agent and popular agitator Adam Burish sign with the Dallas Stars.

The trade came less than 24 hours after Hawks GM Stan Bowman sent Kris Versteeg to the Toronto Maple Leafs and a week after trading Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager to the Thrashers and Colin Fraser to the Edmonton Oilers.

Here is a complete list of the Hawks players, who, effective July 1, became free agents. The NHL released the names of all players, who became free agents on Thursday. Details regarding the classifications also are below.

2Ladd.jpgNow that Kris Versteeg and Dustin Byfuglien are gone. Who is next in the Blackhawks' dis-assembly line?

It looks like it may be Andrew Ladd. A source said the gritty winger could potentially be on the move if the Hawks can find the right deal.

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