In a stunning turn of events, the Chicago Blackhawks are walking away from the $2.75 million arbitration award for goaltender Antti Niemi and will be signing Marty Turco to a one-year deal for around $1 or $1.5 million (Update: $1.3 million is the number). While a report of this happening came out last night, this makes it all official. Antti Niemi now becomes an unrestricted free agent and the Blackhawks now help solve some of their salary cap questions. Sort of.
The Blackhawks next move figures to be sending Cristobal Huet to Rockford in the AHL to keep his money off of the Hawks salary cap, meanwhile Corey Crawford figures to get the call to join Turco as his backup. For Turco, considering the amount that he’s signing for, there’s a lot of pride being sucked up here by the former Stars starter but doing so to end up on a still very strong team that is coming off of winning a Stanley Cup, that’s worth it to take a shot in the pocketbook for a year.
Turco only has to play as well as Niemi did last season as the Blackhawks will employ a more stern defensive presence in front of him. As Niemi proved during the playoffs last year, Turco won’t have to win games on his own in net, he just has to make sure he doesn’t play poor enough to lose them. Chicago’s offense can help bail him out when need be. With the fearsome defensive foursome in front of him like Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marty Turco already has four better defensemen in front of him than he’s had in Dallas. While Turco certainly had his share of issues with the Stars and he’s turning 35 soon, he’s still very capable of being stellar.
As for Antti Niemi, it’s pretty nice to at least have your Stanley Cup championship to console you after losing your job. It’s also nice to have a rather intriguing potential job market out there waiting for you. Teams like the Sharks and Flyers, despite having a full compliment of goaltenders still have questions circling their tentative tandems. What’s not so fun for Niemi now is joining the free agent goalie market. Then again, Niemi’s got something that Jose Theodore and Vesa Toskala don’t have: A winning pedigree in the playoffs.
It would prove to be fascinating if San Jose came calling for Niemi as it was the Sharks who put the Blackhawks in a major bind earlier this summer by signing Niklas Hjalmarsson to a pricey offer sheet which Chicago matched to retain him. San Jose is set to run with Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss in goal which, on paper, looks a bit daunting.
The mumps are back.
Three years after a league-wide outbreak sidelined a slew of players, the Canucks have announced that d-man Troy Stecher has been diagnosed with mumps, while four other players — Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Mike Chaput and Markus Granlund — have presented symptoms.
More, from the club:
The team has worked from the outset with the Vancouver Health Authority, NHL, NHLPA and BC Centre for Disease Control to minimize transmission of the illness.
In keeping with BC Centre of Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health guidelines, players presenting symptoms are immediately being tested and quarantined in isolation for a five-day period from the onset of symptoms or until test results prove negative.
Vaccines are also being administered to minimize further risk of contraction along with universal preventative hygiene measures as recommended by Vancouver Coastal Health including disinfecting all dressing room areas.
Vancouver’s in the midst of its bye week. Saturday’s home date against the Sharks will be its first since a 3-2 loss to Philly on Sunday.
Given that Stecher’s out and the other four are being quarantined, the Canucks project to be severely undermanned tomorrow. There was no immediate announcement for AHL recall plans, or emergency roster replacements.
Following Saturday’s game, Vancouver is back in action again on Tuesday, when it hosts Detroit.
The Anaheim Ducks have acquired winger Patrick Eaves in a trade with the Dallas Stars. The cost was a conditional second-round draft pick in 2017.
Eaves, 32, is enjoying a career year with 21 goals in 59 games. A pending unrestricted free agent, his cap hit is just $1 million. It was expected that he’d be traded prior to next week’s deadline.
Eaves join a Ducks team that could use a few more goals. Of note, Corey Perry has struggled offensively, scoring just 11 times in 62 games.
Below is the condition on the draft pick, which could turn into a first-round selection.
Based on draft position, Dallas will receive the middle pick of Ottawa, San Jose or Toronto’s second-round selections in 2017 per the conditions in which Anaheim acquired the pick from Toronto in a previous trade. Should Anaheim advance to the third round of the postseason and Eaves plays in 50% or more of their games in the first two rounds, the selection becomes the Ducks first-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft.
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell is expected to skate in his first hockey game since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The Hurricanes assigned Bickell to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on Friday and say he’s expected to play for the Checkers on Saturday night.
The move came a day after he was placed on waivers in a procedural move that allowed the team to send him to the minors.
Bickell, 30, has been out since October, was diagnosed with MS in November and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 11.
The three-time Stanley Cup winner with Chicago has been practicing with the Hurricanes for the past month.
Justin Schultz‘s career has done a virtual 180 since joining Pittsburgh at last year’s trade deadline, and the Pens have made it clear they’d like to keep him around beyond this season.
“We have not [discussed an extension with Schultz],” GM Jim Rutherford said, per the Post-Gazette. “But he will definitely be a priority for us in the offseason.”
Acquired for a third-round pick last February, Schultz proved to be one of Rutherford’s best moves (part of the reason why Rutherford captured NHL GM of the Year). The former Oilers rearguard had seven points through 18 regular-season games and then thrived once getting into the playoff mix, helping Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup.
He was signed to a modest one-year, $1.4 million extension last summer, which has turned out to be another Rutherford masterstroke.
Schultz has been vitally important for a Pittsburgh defense decimated by injury. His TOI is way up — 19:15 per game — and his offensive contributions have been outstanding. The 26-year-old has nine goals and 39 points through 56 games, putting him tops among all Pens d-men (and tied for seventh among all NHL blueliners).
Schultz is a pending RFA, and in line for a pretty big raise. The Post-Gazette suggested it could cost Pittsburgh $4-$5 million annually to keep him around, meaning Rutherford will have his work cut out. Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino and Trevor Daley are all pending UFAs, while fellow d-man Brian Dumoulin is also restricted come July 1.
Rutherford will also need to deal with the Marc-Andre Fleury issue, specifically how to mitigate Fleury’s $5.75 million cap hit.