I always get a suspicious look when I see goalie stats of the NHL having seen a goaltender in the SM-liiga... How the Wirtz does Antti friggin Niemi post 7 shutouts in one season?!
Because the Hawks allowed far less shots than any other team, and top 4 had a stellar season.
However, as said earlier here... arbitration awards stats, and Niemi friggin has them even it is only for a short period. What is more, the big thing among NHL talking heads when it comes to goalies is whether you can actually win with them in the playoffs.
Niemi went toe to toe with Luongo who is a superstar (I'd say he was quite a bit better) and was simply much better than Leighton in the finals and thus one of the primary reasons Chicago won.
The question is how much the most recent season factors in compared to overall NHL CV. Usually I think what have you done for me lately actually gets a whole lot of play. And lately, Niemi could hardly have done more.
With that said - the smartest thing he can do is to take a two year deal that Chicago is OK with ahead of arbitration, one which will make him your starting goal keeper and able to go to UFA with a real claim to get PAID.
So when are we going to find out what the number is
His arbitration hearing date is scheduled for July 29th I believe so it probably won't be until early August. We may hear something sooner if Niemi and the Hawks can agree on a figure before the arbitration date.