Marty Reasoner Trade Doesn't Solve Chicago Blackhawks Cap Problems

Michael Wagner@MichaelDWagnerSenior Analyst IJuly 23, 2010

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 14:  Jeff Taffe #22 of the Florida Panthers skates against the New York Islanders on December 14, 2009 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The summer of Chicago Blackhawks trades continued today as the 'Hawks dealt Marty Reasoner, acquired in the Dustin Byfuglien trade, to the Florida Panthers for forward Jeff Taffe.

Last season, Taffe appeared in 21 games for the Florida Panthers scoring one goal and one assist while seeing most of his time on the Panthers' fourth line.

A former first round pick of the St. Louis Blues, Taffe has never really panned out at the NHL level, appearing in 174 games and accumulating only 44 points.

Taffe will be expected to compete for a spot on the Blackhawks fourth line because of his low cap hit and experience in that role.

However, Taffe is not the real key to this deal.  Rather, the real prize of this deal is the cap space created by getting Reasoners $1.15 million cap hit off the books to put toward resigning goaltender Antti Niemi.

Although the trade for Marty Reasoner has helped the 'Hawks gain more breathing room under the cap it still might not be enough to pay Niemi what he is demanding after his magical season with the 'Hawks.

Currently the 'Hawks have $138,000 under the cap.

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However, that is still with Cristobal Huet on the roster—that will not be the case at the start of the NHL season so you can wipe his salary off the books.

So, we are looking at about $5,763,410 of cap space to add two forwards, two defensemen, and two goaltenders. 

After the 'Hawks add the likes of Bryan Bickell, Igor Makarov, Shawn Lalonde, Jordan Hendry and Corey Crawford to the lineup the 'Hawks will have $2.635 million left over in cap space to sign Niemi.

Now, the ball seems to be in Niemi's court as the 'Hawks have made an attempt to create more cap space to keep him in the Indian head sweater.  He could take a one or two year deal worth 2-2.5 million per season. 

But, if Niemi and his agent Bill Zito intend to get high dollars for Niemi it is likely that he will go to arbitration, and into free agency.

I do not blame Niemi for trying to get as much money as possible, but with goalie openings limited across the league and the 'Hawks defense limiting the amount of rubber he sees, it might be the wise decision for Niemi to take a short deal with the 'Hawks. 

He could seek a richer deal when there is more money to be had.

Although I don't see this as a likelihood, it would be nice if the 'Hawks exodus would come to an end once and for all.