Blackhawks Walk Away From Antti Niemi, Sign Marty Turco
In his place, the team has signed veteran goaltender Marty Turco (pictured right) to a one-year contract, reported to be worth between $1 million and $1.5 million, helping to complete the salary cap-induced roster shuffle that has been taking place all offseason in the wake of the team's first Stanley Cup win since 1961. Niemi joins Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Brent Sopel, John Madden and Ben Eager as players that won't be returning to help the team defend its title. The Blackhawks had no choice but to shed salary this summer, entering the offseason well over the $59.4 million salary cap ceiling.
There's also a strong possibility that the team will eat the contract of veteran goaltender Cristobal Huet -- who is still owed $5.6 million per season over the next two years -- as the team still only has 18 players under contract for next season, and is right at the cap ceiling even after swapping Niemi for Turco.
Turco is coming off a bounce-back season of sorts -- at least compared to the previous two seasons -- for the Dallas Stars, posting a .913 save percentage in 53 games. His game has declined quite a bit over the past couple of years, but he will be joining a Chicago team that is still very strong on the blueline with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Brian Campbell (good player, bad contract).