The Blackhawks' decision is in. The Hawks will completely walk away from goalie Antti Niemi and his arbitration award of $2.75 million, making him an unrestricted free agent.
To replace him, the Hawks have signed veteran goalie Marty Turco to a one-year deal.
The Hawks' decision to completely walk away from Niemi is just another sign of how bad their cap situation is. It's now possible for another team to possibly sign Niemi for less money, although most likely more years.
"We've exhausted all of our options with Antti Niemi," Bowman said in conference call. "We made several contract offers, including a multi-year offer. But was never able to work it out and we've decided to go in another direction. I'm very excited that we've agreed to a one-year contract with three-time All-Star Marty Turco ... I know he's hungry for a Stanley Cup."
Turco had been rumored as a possible signing for the Hawks dependent on the award handed to Niemi by the arbitrator. Apparently, $2.75 million was too high for the Hawks. Turco's deal is reportedly worth $1.3 million.
Bowman did explore accepting Niemi's award amount and trading the goalie.
"It just didn't materialize," Bowman said. "Marty is a guy we've certainly had interest in for a long time here. We're fortunate he had some patience with us."
In his prime, Turco was considered one of the league's best goalies, especially for his ability to move the puck. But as the Dallas Stars declined so did his numbers. He had a 22-20-11 record in Dallas last season with a 2.72 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
Turco appeared in 53 regular-season games last yer compared to 39 for Niemi, who started the season as Cristobal Huet's backup before taking over for the Hawks' run at the Stanley Cup. Turco turned down an offer from the Philadelphia Flyers to sign with the Hawks.
"I'm uber-excited to be part of this opportunity for them to repeat and me to have a chance at winning a Stanley Cup," said Turco, who turns 35 later this month. "There's been a lot of questions. It's been a different summer for this organization, who wants to enjoy winning a Stanley Cup. But this is the world that everybody lives in. For me, my world revolves around stopping pucks and giving my teammates the best opportunity to win on a nightly basis."