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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    Full Schedule: 2018 Stanley Cup Final

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    The 2018 Stanley Cup Final matchup is set and it will be the Washington Capitals against the Vegas Golden Knights.

    So many different storylines to consider. George McPhee vs. his old team. Alex Ovechkin going for his first ever Cup ring. Former Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury against the Capitals. And the obvious one with the Golden Knights and their inaugural season success. It should be a fun one.

    Here’s the full schedule:

    Game 1 Monday, May 28 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 2 Wednesday, May 30 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 3 Saturday, June 2 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 4 Monday, June 4 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 5* Thursday, June 7 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 6* Sunday, June 10 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 7* Wednesday, June 13 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    * = If necessary

    MORE:
    NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Ovechkin, Capitals headed to Stanley Cup Final after Game 7 triumph

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    Alex Ovechkin will get his chance.

    The Great 8 will contest for the Stanley Cup after his Washington Capitals defeated their past demons and the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday.

    Yes, the Capitals — a team that had to overcome a horrific playoff record against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and then had to deal the disappointment of beginning the Conference Final with wins in Games 1 and 2 only to drop three straight to trail 3-2.

    They took care of business in Game 6, and that train kept chugging along into Game 7.

    Ovi put his stamp on Game 7 just 62 seconds in as he wired a one-timer past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    The first period was a wild affair, filled with scuffles, a fight and stolen jersey.

    And then Andre Burakovsky arrived.

    Burakovsky missed the first 12 games of the plays because of injury and then followed that up with seven games without a point.

    He revealed earlier in the series that he lays a mental beating on himself too often. So Game 7 must have felt pretty good.

    Burakovsky scored on two separate breakaways in the second period.

    The first came off a brutal giveaway from Dan Girardi in his own zone. His second came after the Lightning got caught on a bad change.

    Tampa looked like a shell of their former selves. They dusted themselves off after dropping the first two at home, but simply stopped scoring after the 33-second mark in the second period of Game 5.

    [PHT’s Three Stars]

    Braden Holtby showed up at precisely the right moment in the series, posting consecutive shutouts to close out the series.

    Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, meanwhile, were far from brilliant. No one over the last seven periods and change was on the Lightning.

    The Lightning went 159:33 without scoring. Ouch.

    You can’t win games when you don’t score, something the Lightning will have all summer to ponder. They led the NHL with 296 goals this season, all of which means sweet nothing now.

    And now the attention turns to one of the more intriguing Cup Finals in a long time.

    One of the greatest players of all-time with a chance to win his first Cup silence his critics after years of disappointment against the best story in sports, period.

    Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final begins Monday, May 28 at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

    In the words of Bart Scott, “Can’t wait.”

    MORE:
    NHL Playoffs 2018: Stanley Cup Final TV Schedule

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    PHT’s Three Stars: Burakovsky’s goals push Capitals into Stanley Cup Final

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    1st Star: Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals

    After being benched earlier in the series, Burakovsky responded in a big way in Game 7 scoring twice as the Capitals moved on to the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    2nd Star: Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

    Holtby finished the Eastern Conference Final in a strong way, posting a second straight shutout while making 29 saves. The Capitals netminder has not allowed a goal since 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5.

    3rd Star: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

    The captain only needed 62 seconds to open the scoring and quiet the AMALIE Arena crowd.

    [Ovechkin, Capitals headed to Stanley Cup Final after Game 7 triumph]

    Highlight of the Night:

    A wild first period included a tilt between Tom Wilson and Braydon Coburn:

    Factoid of the Night:

    Stanley Cup Final schedule
    Game 1 Monday, May 28 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 2 Wednesday, May 30 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 3 Saturday, June 2 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 4 Monday, June 4 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 5* Thursday, June 7 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 6* Sunday, June 10 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 7* Wednesday, June 13 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    * = If necessary

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Brooks Orpik leaves Game 7 after Paquette’s hit from behind

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    While the Washington Capitals built up a lead in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday, they lost two players before the end of the second period.

    First, Devante Smith-Pelly blocked a Ryan McDonagh shot with the back of his neck in the first period. After returning to the game, he would leave the Capitals’ bench late in the second period.

    Joining him would be Orpik, who took a big hit from behind along the boards from Lightning forward Cedric Paquette. As Orpik was being tended to, the officials got together and determined that there would no penalty on the play, which is an odd decision.

    As Orpik goes to get the puck in the corner, he does peek over his shoulder and sees Paquette a ways away, but he doesn’t change his body position as Paquette drills him. He’s probably not expecting to get hit even with the Lightning forward in the area. That would have easily been at least a major, maybe even a game misconduct (Remember Steve Bernier?).

    The Capitals would respond to the hit two minutes later. On the scoreboard. Andre Burakovsky potted his second goal of the night to give Washington a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the third period.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.