Several NHL sources confirmed today that the San Jose Sharks will sign G Antti Niemi to a 1-year $2 million contract as early as tomorrow.
The Chicago Blackhawks walked away from Niemi’s $2.75 million arbitration award last month allowing the Finnish goaltender to test the waters of free-agency.
In a somewhat surprising move by GM Doug Wilson after signing Antero Niittymaki earlier this summer, it appears the two Finns will split time in net – a situation both players are accustomed to. This should keep the starting job competitive especially during playoff time in case either one decides to pull a ‘Jose Theodore’.
Last Season, Niemi posted a 26-7-4 record in the regular season with a 2.25 GAA and 0.912 SV % along with a 2.63 GAA and .910 SV% in the playoffs while leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup.
I posted my thoughts regarding the Blackhawks’ decision to let Niemi walk here, and I’ll elaborate on an area of concern I have for Niemi. We all remember the tremendous save he had on Jeff Carter in the dying minutes of Game 6 in the SCF, however when Niemi gets scored on, he’s usually on his rear-end – especially on rebounds. Having Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brent Sopel, and Niklas Hjalmarsson on defense would allow most goalies in the league to enjoy the success Niemi had in Chicago. Here’s one example where Niemi has trouble controlling a rebound and is sitting on the seat of his pants when JP Dumont scores. Again on this goal by Danny Briere, note the position Niemi is in when the goal is scored.
I do think Niemi is a very capable NHL goalie, he’s just playing in front of a less talented defensive corp for the Sharks, and the signing doesn’t allow a lot of cap space to add a defenseman with a solid resume unless Wilson is planning on another move.
About the Author
Written by Alex Wasserstrom
Native Californian, former minor league pro, and current men's league superstar, Alex Wasserstrom is ProSportsBlogging.com's San Jose Sharks correspondent. Wanna talk puck? Shoot him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter (@Awassers).