The Hawks announced today via twitter that they're going to be keeping Hammer as they'll match the Sharks offer on the young blueliner. We all expected this to happen but of course it's a relief to finally see it made official. The Hawks are now on the hook for the 4 year, $14Million deal.
Also announced on Twitter was that Stan Bowman doesn't see the Hammer/Niemi situation as an either/or thing. They're continuing to negotiate with the Finn and his agent and an arbitration date has been set for July 29th. The Hawks are of course free to ink Niemi to a deal beforehand but with the money now due to Hammer it's going to harder to find the cash. Rogers has said that there isn't much activity between Niemi and the Hawks so it's likely they'll just wait for their date at the end of the month.
I think it's pretty safe to say the Hawks will let Niemi find his money elsewhere. There are still several free agent goalies available (including Turco, who I think is the one Sam, McClure and I all want to see signed for a bonus-heavy one or two year deal.). St. Louis may have set the price for Niemi far higher than the Hawks can afford with the Halak deal.
One way or the other though - the Hawks are going to have to free up some money somewhere. According to Pierre LeBrun, he's hearing rumors that Campbell could be moved. I seriously doubt anyone would want to pick up his massive cap hit though - he'll likely be a Hawk for quite a while unless they can find some sucker to take his money or put him together as a very attractive package deal. In a fun little game of telephone, LeBrun also said Rogers thought Sharp could be on the move. Man-crushes aside, this simply can't happen. He's too good and too cheap. The Hawks can find someone with a low price tag to replace Ladd, Eager and Byfuglien... maybe even a new Versteeg. They're not going to find anything close to what Sharp can bring though.
So Hammer's getting paid and we're still on wait and see mode with Niemi. Carry on