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Blackhawks Look To Sign Niemi Before Arbitration Hearing

The Blackhawks have already lost several players from the Stanley Cup championship team due to salary cap issues. After matching the Sharks' offer sheet for Niklas Hjalmarsson on Monday, they now turn their attention to re-signing goalie Antti Niemi:

Niemi has an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 29, and his salary for the 2010-11 season will be determined at that time unless his agent Bill Zito and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman can reach a deal before then.

"There are a number of different ways to go and I guess it's up to Stan and I to try and find something that makes sense for everybody," Zito said Wednesday on "The Mully & Hanley Show" on WSCR-AM 670. "Antti would like to stay and like to be a part of this thing and I guess the onus is on us to figure out a way to do it."

Despite Niemi's impressive showing during the Hawks' drive to the Stanley Cup championship, Zito said he'd rather not leave it up to an arbitrator to make sure his client gets a nice raise from his salary of $827,000 last season.

It sounds like both parties want to get a deal done. Niemi will be 27 in August and retaining him would be a key part in the Blackhawks' defense of their title.