Trade helps clear more cap room for Niemi

Marty Reasoner's stay with the Blackhawks was short, as he was traded to the Panthers on Thursday without playing a game. Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

It was the least Dale Tallon could do.

The now general manager of the Florida Panthers helped ease the Blackhawks’ salary crunch by trading for recently acquired center Marty Reasoner. Of course, Tallon helped the Hawks get into their salary cap problems, but that’s been well-documented.

The loss of Reasoner’s salary will save the Hawks at most about $600,000, if his replacement makes minimum-type money. But it is $600,000 more they can offer to restricted free agent Antti Niemi.

Depending on how much the Hawks allot for injuries, as well as how many players they keep on their roster (between 20 and 23), they have about $2 million to offer Niemi if all other spots are filled with guys making between $500,000-$600,000.

It’s probably still not enough, but it does get them on the playing field. One more savings is needed.

The only viable option left that could save them $500,000 or more is trading forward Tomas Kopecky. There are little things that could save some money too, say, if newly acquired forward Viktor Stalberg didn’t make the team at $850,000 and a minimum-salaried player did instead. The danger, of course, is if Niemi still turns down the Hawks and the arbitrator agrees with a higher figure. Then,the Hawks have lost even more veterans without the payoff of signing Niemi, though replacements can always be found.

The loss of Reasoner assures Patrick Sharp will remain at center -- something coach Joel Quenneville indicated at the recently completed prospects camp even before Thursday’s trade. It also nearly hands the fourth-line center spot to Jake Dowell, who general manager Stan Bowman has recently praised.

Niemi’s arbitration hearing is closing fast (July 29) and it’s obvious the Hawks are doing their best to clear some space. The only question is, will it be enough?