Niemi could have many suitors

We are just hours away from free-agency and already the market is starting to take shape.

Word on restricted free-agent offer sheets is beginning to leak and the Hawks Antti Niemi could very well be a target of several teams, though his Chicago based agent, Bill Zito, would not comment on the speculation.

On the Niklas Hjalmarsson front, all is quiet, setting the Hawks up for a possible easier road to re-signing the improving defenseman.

It still appears very unlikely that John Madden will return to the Hawks, while Andrew Ladd may not get an offer sheet but if he ends up in arbitration, he’ll get three million or more, easy. That’s something the Hawks may not be able to afford.

If a player signs an offer sheet, the Hawks will have 7 days to match or lose the player for a designated compensation package involving draft picks determined by the deal the player signs with his new team.