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Antti Niemi receives $2.75M arbitration award; Chicago has two days to decide what’s next

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The wait to find out Antti Niemi’s salary arbitration award is over. Chris Kuc reports that the Cup-winning Finnish goalie received a one-year, $2.75 million ruling. Please note that this isn’t a binding contract, though; Niemi’s fate with the Balckhawks has not yet been decided.

In case you haven’t been following arbitration situations, the Blackhawks have a few options. They can honor the award and sign Niemi to that contract, walk away and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent or trade away his deal to another team. Chicago will have 48 hours to make a decision and will have an opportunity to buyout a contract in that two-day window of time.

Our previous stories indicate that the Blackhawks wanted to pay him $2 million while Niemi was asking for $3 million. While that $2.75 million reward is close to what the Niemi camp wanted, that’s not a bad deal when you consider the scant amount of NHL goalies with Cup rings making under $3 million. On the flip side, there isn’t much to say that Niemi will be able to replicate that performance since he hasn’t even played a full season as a No. 1 starter.

Will the Blackhawks bring back Niemi or move on to another option, such as free agents Marty Turco or Jose Theodore? Perhaps they’ll buyout someone else or ship Cristobal Huet’s massive $5.6 million contract to the minors? The team has two days to make a decision. We’ll keep you updated as they mull over their options.