The Dallas Stars finally learned their lesson after this season about sub-par goaltending.
They traded for goalie Ben Bishop’s rights and then signed him to a six-year contract. Now, they’re finally bidding farewell to one of their aforementioned sub-par goalies, Antti Niemi, who will have the final year of his misbegotten contact bought out after being placed on waivers.
Niemi is scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2017-18, and league rules allow a buyout at two-thirds of the remaining contract or $3 million. The Stars can then spread the cap hit of that buyout over two seasons or $1.5 million. That leaves the Stars with more than $20 million in cap space for this upcoming season to sign their restricted free agents, make trades for high-dollar players, or pursue free agents.
The Stars had the lowest team save percentage in the NHL last season, and Niemi’s was a putrid .892 in 37 games. Kari Lehtonen had a .902 save percentage in 50 games. He was the better goalie and the more expensive buyout, so good luck in your future endeavors, Antti Niemi.
GM Jim Nill handed Niemi a three-year deal worth $4.5 million annually back in 2014 that ended up with Niemi posting a .900 save percentage over 85 games played.
The Dallas goaltending problem should have been addressed before last season, but maybe there’s something to be said for overcompensation. Their ghastly play between the pipes helped necessitate Ken Hitchcock’s hiring, a trade for Bishop and a Niemi buyout.
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