Today another piece of the puzzle that formed the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks has left the nest. Today, Blackhawks GM, Stan Bowman, decided to use his right to walk away from awarding the 1 year, $2.75million contract set by an arbitrator to Antti Niemi.
On the flipside, the Blackhawks have also come to terms with ex-Dallas Star goalie, Marty Turco. Turco had recently refused a 3 year, $6million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers to come to Chicago for a 1 year contract in the neighborhood of $1 - $1.5million.
What does this do for the cap-stricken Blackhawks? It brings in a 3-time All-star goalie while giving goalie, Corey Crawford his long due of being on the active roster after spending 4+ years in the AHL-affiliated, Rockford IceHogs. Signing Turco also frees up more cap space to possibly allow Bowman to bring in a stay at home defenseman or a solid defensive forward.
Turco brings with him 500+ NHL games experience and over 260+ wins to his credit. Being 34 years old (35 on 8/13) does not provide the Hawks with a goalie that can be locked up long-term being that Turco is arguably on the downside of his career. It DOES provide for the 2010-2011 season, a proven goalie that with a MUCH better defense in front of him should rack up totals near what he accomplished the last 7 years while in Dallas (33 wins, .910 SV%, 2.33GAA).
Will Turco be the answer to bring the Hawks a repeat? No. There are obviously many other puzzle pieces that have been removed from this team (Ladd, Versteeg, Byfuglien, Fraser, Burish, Sopel, Madden, Eager). Can Turco be relied upon to be a solid replacement for Antti Niemi? I believe so.
And somewhere on the West coast, San Jose GM, Doug Wilson is smiling. He did not manage to pull Niklas Hjalmarsson away from the Hawks, but he managed to force them to match the 4 year, $14million ($3.5mil cap hit) offer sheet he had made for Hjalmarsson. That move has forced the Blackhawks to break ties with Antti Niemi. Not a bad payback from Wilson after being ousted by the Blackhawks in the Conference Finals last year.