SHARKS CONFIRM SIGNING OF CUP WINNING GOALTENDER ANTTI NIEMI
NIEMI REPORTEDLY SIGNED 1YR/$2M DEAL WITH SAN JOSE
The San Jose Sharks confirmed reports this morning that Stanley Cup winning goaltender Antti Niemi signed a one-year contract with the team. Niemi registered a 16-6 playoff record in a phenomenal run to the Finals, a run where he outlasted the second best NHL offense in Vancouver, and shut down the Sharks en route to a 4-game sweep in the Western Conference Finals. After earning a $2.75 million award in salary arbitration, the salary cap strapped Chicago Blackhawks opted to go with a bargain basement contract for Marty Turco instead of re-upping Niemi.
“We liked our goaltending yesterday and we like it even more today,” San Jose Sharks EVP/GM Doug Wilson said in a conference call. “When a player like this comes available and wants to join your team, and you don’t have to give up any assets, you have to make it happen.” Wilson jumped at adding fellow Finn Antero Niittymaki on the first day of free agency, and the addition of Antti Niemi gives the Sharks more of a tandem in goal instead of the workhorse effort Evgeni Nabokov provided in recent seasons.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Niemi registered a 26-7-4 record for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2009-10 regular season, posting a .912SV%, 2.25GAA and 7 shutouts. The 27-year old beat out Corey Crawford for the backup position early, then surpassed starter Cristobal Huet as the year progressed. After January, Niemi appeared in 21 of the Blackhawks final 27 games (78%), and started 19 of them.
Niemi joins a long list of players in a salary cap exodus out of Chicago. The Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks have seen the departure of Antti Niemi, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, John Madden, Brent Sopel, Colin Fraser, Ben Eager and Adam Burish from their championship roster this offseason. The Sharks will host Chicago in San Jose on November 24th and December 11th, and visit Chicago at the United Center on December 30th and March 14th.
“”It’s going to be the most exciting games of the regular season next year… It’s going to be weird because I used to play for the Blackhawks,” the understated Niemi said during a conference call.
[Update] Eenie, meenie, miney — Niittymaki, Greiss have different reactions to Niemi’s arrival – David Pollak’s Working the Corners blog.