With the news of Antti Niemi being let go by the Chicago Blackhawks today after walking away from his arbitration decision, the speculation over where the soon-to-be 27 year-old goalie has taken off. One place that’s been getting mentioned heavily is Philadelphia, but as it turns out, there’s no interest there from general manager Paul Holmgren as Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly found out.
It made sense that the club pursed older veterans Evgeni Nabokov and even Turco this summer because general manager Paul Holmgren was looking for an experienced goalie to bide time while one of his prospects developed. Pursuing Niemi would seemingly alter that strategy.
Holmgren said late Monday afternoon he has no interest in pursuing Niemi.
Both Montreal and Washington are in need of a starting goalie, so Niemi has options.
Panaccio is trying to pass the buck in an interesting direction by mentioning both Montreal and Washington but it appears that both of those teams are also all set in goal. Montreal still needs to re-sign restricted free agent Carey Price and have already signed Alex Auld to be his backup. Washington, meanwhile, appears set to go with a major youth movement in goal going with incumbent semi-starter Semyon Varlamov and two-time Calder Cup winning goalie Michal Neuvirth.
Niemi could have plenty of other options though as long as his salary demands are in line with what the market is showing. Obviously Turco signing for $1.3 million with Chicago to replace Niemi is a bit different in that Chicago had no real cap space to work with, but cost-effective is the buzz word being used for goaltending all around the league now. Whether that translates into optimal results for teams remains to be seen.