The Dallas Stars will probably have a two-headed goalie monster next season, but the brief off-season foray into a three-headed one is no more. General manager Jim Nill promised the move would come this week, and indeed, the Stars have made a definitive move to address the goalie situation.
First reported by the venerable Mike Heika, the Stars are going to place Antti Niemi on waivers with the intention of buying out his contract if there are no takers. He has one year left on a deal with a cap hit of $4.5 million per season.
Stars will place Antti Niemi on waivers for purposes of a buyout.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) June 26, 2017
With the cost of Niemi’s contract, the buyout will cost the Stars $1.5 million per season in cap hit for the next two seasons. That’s a net cap savings of $3 million this year along with the roster spot for $1.5 million of dead space in 2018-19.
Niemi was a free agent signing in the summer of 2015 to help shore up what had been a struggling Stars goalie situation the year before, but having two “starters” never really worked out. The contract was for three years with a salary of $4.5 million per season.
His problem in Dallas wasn’t his ability but his maddening inconsistency, especially in the back half of the regular season. He could never seem to spell Kari Lehtonen when Lehtonen got into a rut, and while he had a few brilliant games, he also had a number of stinkers where it felt like three of the first five shots went in.
In all, Niemi played 85 games over two seasons, 73 starts, with a .900 save percentage and a 2.92 goals against average. His overall record was 37-25-11, 25 of those wins coming as the Stars took the Western Conference regular-season title in 2015-16. He played five playoff games that year, three starts, with one win and three losses and a 0.865 save percentage and 3.29 goals against.
Because of the inconsistency in goal that has plagued them over the last few seasons, the Stars signed Ben Bishop this offseason to a six-year, $29.5 million contract.