It would have been tough, but Chicago could have fit Niemi in under the cap. This move makes it a little easier this year, but I'm not sure that it really improves their team (it could make them worse, if Turco continues to degrade). Apparently, there were some concerns about the future, since Niemi was awarded a one year deal and would have become UFA after this year. But I don't see how giving a one year deal to a 35 year old helps that situation.
Niemi had a very good rookie season, and overall his playoff performance was decent. With the bonus overage being just a one year thing, Chicago's cap situation next summer would be much better. With Seabrook and Brouwer the only other important FAs, keeping Niemi then wouldn't have been too hard.
Now they have to find another goalie next summer, and who knows what will be available. I think they're taking a big risk here for a pretty minor gain.
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