2010 NHL Free Agency: Antti Niemi's agent hopes to make deal before salary arbitration

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Niemi10.jpgAntti Niemi’s potential July 29 salary arbitration case would be one of the most intriguing in recent NHL history. It could set a precedent for players who have skinny resumes with big bullet points like “won starting job over $5.6 million goalie” and “back-stopped team to Stanley Cup in first playoff run.”

That being said, with 42 career regular season games and 22 playoff appearances, that resume is very skinny. Chicago Breaking News reports that Niemi’s agent Bill Zito would like to work out a deal with the team rather than falling to the mercy of the arbitration judges.

Niemi has an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 29, and his salary for the 2010-11 season will be determined at that time unless his agent Bill Zito and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman can reach a deal before then.

“There are a number of different ways to go and I guess it’s up to Stan and I to try and find something that makes sense for everybody,” Zito said Wednesday on “The Mully & Hanley Show” on WSCR-AM 670. “Antti would like to stay and like to be a part of this thing and I guess the onus is on us to figure out a way to do it.”

Despite Niemi’s impressive showing during the Hawks’ drive to the Stanley Cup championship, Zito said he’d rather not leave it up to an arbitrator to make sure his client gets a nice raise from his salary of $827,000 last season.

What Zito didn’t reveal is what Niemi is looking for.

Would the Finnish goalie rather get paid big money over the short term so he can shoot for a whopper of a deal later? Perhaps, instead of a high annual salary, he might prefer the security that comes with a longer-term, more cap-friendly contract? It’s quite possible that Zito could point to Jaroslav Halak as a parallel for Niemi; after all, they both emerged in the playoffs after fighting for a starting job during the regular season.

Another thing to remember is that, at 26, Niemi is one year away from unrestricted free agency. Might he roll the dice with a one-year deal with Chicago, hoping to land a monster deal next summer after proving that he’s not a fluke in 2010-11?

It’s a fascinating situation, for sure. Stay tuned, hockey fans (and salary cap dorks).

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

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    ‘He doesn’t seem to get rattled’: Blues officially name Alex Pietrangelo team captain

    St. Louis Blues' Alex Pietrangelo (27) skates against the Chicago Blackhawks' in an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
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    The news leaked a day early, but on Thursday the St. Louis Blues made it official: Alex Pietrangelo is the 21st captain in the club’s history.

    Selected fourth overall in 2008, Pietrangelo has played 459 games for the Blues, with 51 goals and 255 points in that span. He takes over the ‘C’ from David Backes, who signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent this summer, following the Blues’ run to the Western Conference Final.

    “Watching him perform when the game is on the line, he doesn’t seem to get rattled,” said Blues GM Doug Armstrong of Pietrangelo, as per the club’s website.

    “As the captain, you have to answer questions, the tough questions when games are over. I really like his personality, his demeanor to his teammates, to the coaching staff and to the media. He’s someone that has the respect of everyone.”

    In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the end of July, Pietrangelo praised Backes for the impact he had on the young defenseman as he was developing with the Blues.

    “I think being so close with Dave over the five years he was captain, I’ve learned a lot from him just kind of sitting back and seeing how he operates on a daily basis,” said Pietrangelo.

    “Not only on the ice but off the ice, which is a big part of it trying to keep the locker room together and doing the off-ice stuff.”

     

    Coyotes GM: Bolland ‘won’t be ready to play for the foreseeable future’ due to injury

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    Arizona Coyotes fans anticipating Dave Bolland‘s debut for his new team will have to wait, and a long time, too, by the sounds of it.

    On Thursday, the Florida Panthers traded the 30-year-old Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for draft picks. Bolland, who has an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, played in only 25 games last season, scoring once with five points.

    The move frees up plenty of cap space for the Panthers, while the Coyotes did well to pick up a young forward in Crouse, a former first-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.

    However, at the moment, Bolland is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of any lineup for quite a while. Perhaps the entire season.

    Last season, Bolland was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions, which could be frustrating for any player or any organization, but he was locked into a massive five-year, $27.5 million contract.

    And that massive contract, or Florida’s desire to move it along, has cost the Panthers a prospect forward.

    Video: Pavel Datsyuk scores first goal since returning to KHL

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    Pavel Datsyuk’s venture into the KHL has been official for a while.

    This latest development might add salt in the wound of Red Wings fans who wish the skilled but aging center was still playing for the Original Six franchise.

    He has now scored his first goal since returning to the KHL. Another former NHLer, Ilya Kovalchuk, set it up off the rush. Datsyuk finished off the play with a slick backhander coming down the right wing.

    After it took weeks to decide his future with the Red Wings, Detroit finally unloaded his contract to Arizona at the draft in June.

     

    Poll: Will Jaromir Jagr lead the Panthers in scoring again?

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14:  Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Florida Panthers signals a teammate during the third period against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on March 14, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    This is part of Florida Panthers day at PHT…

    At age 43 Jaromir Jagr was the oldest player in the NHL last season by more than four years.

    You would have never known it when watching him play.

    He was still a dominant top-line player and on many night was the best player on the team. His 66 points were more than any player in NHL history age 43 or older, and he finished as the team’s leading scorer.

    While he has obviously slowed down from where he was during his peak years in the league when he was one of best players ever, he is still playing at a level that almost no other player in NHL history has been able to match at this age. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him dramatically slowing down in the near future.

    Because of that, the Panthers are bringing him back in 2016-17 for at least one more year.

    So with Jagr back in the mix for another year, will he end up leading the Panthers in scoring once again even though he will be 44 years old? Jagr is one of just three players in NHL history that has ever finished as his team’s leading scorer over the age of 40, a list that includes only him, Gordie Howe and Teemu Selanne. He is the only player that has done it over the age of 43 and the only one that has done it for two different teams (New Jesrey in 2013-14 and Florida in 2015-16).

    The one player that seems to be a significant challenger is Aleksander Barkov. He finished just seven points behind Jagr in 2015-16 (in 12 fewer games) and spent most of the season playing on a line with Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau, a trio that was one of the most dominant lines in the league when they were together. But given how Jagr still seems to be in great shape and was still a 60-point player a year ago he is not going to be easy to overtake.