There will be yet another goaltender on the market when free agency rolls around July 1, as the Dallas Stars have placed Antti Niemi on waivers for the purpose of buying him out, according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
Stars will place Antti Niemi on waivers for purposes of a buyout.
— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) June 26, 2017
Pierre LeBrun followed that up by mentioning that the Stars would’ve obviously loved to trade the netminder, but that no takers came forward. Part of that is because of his contract – with the assumption being that he’ll be available for cheaper with free agency looming.
The buyout will cost the Stars two-thirds of his remaining $4.5-million contract (so $3 million) over two years. In other words, Dallas has $1.5 million in cap hit committed to Niemi’s buyout for two years.
Niemi Seeing Stars
The Stars have attempted a two-goalie, 1A-1B, system for the past couple of seasons to no avail. Their acquisition of Ben Bishop from the Los Angeles Kings earlier this season made Niemi available and clearly expendable.
The 33-year-old Niemi spent the last two seasons with the Stars playing 85 games and collecting a 37-25-11 record. Over that span, he maintained a .900 save percentage and 2.92 goals against average – his worst career numbers with any team. He had just three shutouts in 85 games, but still had 33 quality starts with the Stars.
Heading into his 10th season in the NHL, Niemi has played in 423 career regular season games with a record of 227-125-51. Over his career, he has a .913 save percentage, a 2.49 goals against average and 35 shutouts. His quality start percentage (QS%) is .530 for his career with only 59 really bad starts (a statistic developed by Rob Vollman) over his career.
When it comes to the playoffs, he has a record of 36-29 in 67 career games with Chicago, San Jose and Dallas. He also won a Stanley Cup back in 2009-10 (his rookie season) with the Blackhawks.
Niemi is coming off his worst season since coming into the NHL – with a save percentage of .892 and a 3.30 goals against average. His best season – statistically speaking – came back in 2012-13 when he finished 24-12-6 with a .924 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average.
Niemi originally signed with the Stars back on June 29, 2015. It was a three-year deal worth $13.5 million. Niemi was set to kickoff the final year of his contract, but will be hitting the free agent market a year earlier with the buyout. This is all fallout after the Stars signed the newly acquire Bishop to a six-year deal worth $29.5 million, according to The Associated Press.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.