Niemi was expected to seek at least $3 million, after making $827,000 last season as he led the Hawks to the Stanley Cup title. Because of salary-cap constraints, the Hawks were believed to be seeking a decision in the $2 million range.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has talked to other teams about "different options," in case the Hawks don't re-sign Niemi.
And according to Matthew Dirt at Second City Hockey, the cap and financial issues that are plaguing the Hawks might make this too bitter of a pill for them to swallow, relegating them to Plan B. A plan that may very well include a cheaper option like Marty Turco.
Chicago will have 48 hours to decide if they want to accept the arbiter's decision or walk away, leaving Niemi an unrestricted free agent.