Dallas Stars Buy Out Contract of Antti Niemi

Dallas Stars Buyout contract of goaltender Antti Niemi in an effort to save cap space.

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Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) in action during the game against the Anaheim Ducks at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Ducks 6-2. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Stars have placed goaltender Antti Niemi on waivers with the purpose to buyout his contract.

The move comes about a month after the Stars had traded for and signed goaltender Ben Bishop.

Since Bishop’s signing, it was assumed that he would become the Stars starter.

That left both Dallas goaltenders, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, in limbo.

Only one of them would be needed as Bishop’s backup, and they were both expensive goaltenders.

Lehtonen and Niemi both had one year left, but Lehtonen’s 5.9 million is much higher than Niemi’s 4.5 million.

The contract buyout gives the Stars 3 million in cap space this year.

But it also takes 1.5 million out of the cap next year, when Niemi was a free agent. The buyout is 1.5 million for the next two years.

The Stars are obviously going after the betterment of their team, already bringing in defenseman Marc Methot.

Niemi’s stats this year were lacking. In 37 games played, Niemi posted a .892 SV% and 3.30 GAA.

Niemi has seen a dip in his stats since joining the Stars. Last season, Niemi posted a .905 SV% and 2.67 GAA.

That’s down from where Niemi was previously, and after two seasons it was determined that his play just wasn’t good enough for the Dallas Stars.

By contrast, Lehtonen posted a .902 SV% and 2.85 GAA last season in 59 games played. That’s not good enough to be a starter, but it’s fine for a bad backup.

And that’s what the Stars will have to role with. While Lehtonen’s better play perhaps performed a function in keeping him in Dallas, his overpriced contract also had an effect.

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