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Hockeytown0001

Antti Niemi files for arbitration

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I don't think they have the space.

i agree. the teams that are looking for goalies don't have cap space (SJ, philly). i doubt Niemi gets more than the $2.75 million he got from arbitration. maybe montreal but they don't have a boatload of cash either

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Niemi has plenty of potential new homes

Goaltender Antti Niemi certainly didn't expect to be leaving the Chicago Blackhawks so soon after winning the 2010 Stanley Cup. But with the team's decision to walk away from a $2.75 million arbitration award, Niemi now is looking for a team to call his own. Luckily for the goaltender, there appear to be a number of options.

Washington Capitals

Goaltenders signed: Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth

The Capitals are on the record as saying they are content to go with their young goaltenders this season. But that was before Niemi became available. Varlamov and Neuvirth have played a combined 54 regular-season games, while Varlamov left a lot to be desired during the Caps' first-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs last season. Would Niemi have been good enough to help the Caps close out the Canadiens after gaining a 3-1 lead in the series? Niemi could be the difference between another postseason disappointment and a deep run in the playoffs in 2011.

San Jose Sharks

Goaltenders signed: Antero Niittymaki, Thomas Greiss

After Evgeni Nabokov found the NHL free-agent market not to his liking, he bolted for big money in the KHL. That led to the Sharks signing Niittymaki, whose postseason experience is comprised of two relief appearances. Niittymaki has never had a team as good as the Sharks playing in front of him and his two-year, $4 million contract could wind up being a bargain. But it wouldn't be surprising if the Sharks felt the need to bring in Niemi as an insurance policy. After all, the Sharks have a pretty good idea of what a difference-maker Niemi could be after he played out of his mind in the Western Conference Finals to eliminate the Sharks in four games.

Dallas Stars

Goaltenders signed: Kari Lehtonen, Andrew Raycroft

Lehtonen appears to be the Stars' goaltender of the future, seeing as how the Stars let Turco walk away during the offseason. But Lehtonen is unproven. Should he falter, the Stars would have to turn to Raycroft, who hasn't had much success in the League since winning the Calder Trophy with the Boston Bruins in 2003-04. Would the Stars be better off with a Finnish goaltending duo comprised of Lehtonen and Niemi? A virtual swap of Turco and Niemi isn't out of the question.

Atlanta Thrashers

Goaltenders signed: Chris Mason, Ondrej Pavelec

It may not make sense when you consider the ink is still drying on Mason's two-year contract he signed in July and Pavelec is locked up for the next two seasons. But clearly Thrashers GM Rick Dudley is a big fan of Blackhawks castaways. This summer, the Thrashers have signed or traded for Ben Eager, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel, all members of Chicago's Cup-winning team. Perhaps associate coach John Torchetti, an assistant with the Blackhawks from 2007-10, might offer a glowing recommendation of Niemi. If Dudley really likes Niemi, he has the money to spend and could always make room for him by swinging a deal.

Montreal Canadiens

Goaltenders signed: Alex Auld

Carey Price is still negotiating his restricted free-agent contract with the team, but he's the guy there after the Canadiens dealt Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues in June. The 22-year-old Price has yet to show he can handle the No. 1 duties in Montreal, and Auld isn't exactly the safety net that Halak was. But if the Canadiens didn't have faith in Price, would they have traded Halak? The biggest obstacle in Niemi signing in Montreal -- besides the obvious flaws in logic and reason -- is the fact the Canadiens don't have a lot of cap room. This might be the longest of long shots for Niemi's potential destinations.

Philadelphia Flyers

Goaltenders signed: Michael Leighton, Brian Boucher

If you can't beat him, sign him? Goaltending is clearly the Flyers' weak link and adding Niemi would be a huge boost to the team that lost to the Blackhawks in last year's Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the Flyers are right up against the cap and would have to make a salary-dump type move to free up space for Niemi. It's probably not worth it for the Flyers to re-arrange everything when Leighton took them nearly as far as Niemi took the Hawks last season.

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San Jose: Could Antti Niemi become their Ken Norton Jr.?

The San Jose Sharks have already signed a free agent goalie to replace long time starter Evgeni Nabokov. His name is Antero Niittymaki.

And if you talk to Sharks GM Doug Wilson, he will tell you that the organization has already found "their guy".

But with the news that the Chicago Blackhawks have let their Stanley Cup winning netminder, Antti Niemi, walk as an unrestricted free agent, the thought of seeing him in teal next season is extremely intriguing.

Now, while some fans claim that Niemi looked better than he actually is because of the extremely talented defensive group Chicago had last year, another group of fans is quick to point out that Cristobal Huet struggled in the Blackhawks' net with the same defensive corps.

No matter how good the defense was in front of him, props have to be given to a rookie goaltender who was able to put the following numbers:

Regular season: 26-7-4 record, 2.25 GAA, .912 SV %, seven SHO

That is correct—Niemi posted just as many shutouts as regulation losses.

Conversely, Chicago's prior No. 1 goalie before Niemi took over posted the following regular season numbers:

26-14-4, 2.50 GAA, .895 SV %, four SHO

And remember, Cristobal Huet was suppose to be a top-caliber goaltender who had some good years with Montreal and half a season with Washington before coming over to Chicago.

But Niemi took over and was the backbone for the Blackhawks in their run to the Stanley Cup.

And yet, his team thinks he is too pricey at $2.75M? Ouch, talk about money issues for Chicago if they can't afford to pay their Cup-winning goaltender half of what Nabokov made last season for San Jose.

Speaking of San Jose, where else would be a better landing spot for Niemi?

The Sharks were swept out of the playoffs by Niemi's Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals last season, and team teal is eager to come back next season and return the favor.

Niemi obviously can't feel very appreciated by his now former club, and joining the Sharks, a team that is arguably the biggest threat to dethrone the defending champs, makes all too much sense.

Remember, if you're a Bay Area sports follower, this type of scenario isn't unprecedented.

Back in 1994, the San Francisco 49ers were coming off a second straight NFC championship loss to the Dallas Cowboys. And with a chance to bring one of Dallas' key contributors over to their team for the following season, the 49ers decided it was a can't miss opportunity.

Eddie Debartolo Jr. and company brought Cowboys stud linebacker Ken Norton Jr. over to play for the 49ers. During the 1994 season, the 49ers ended up beating the Cowboys twice, including in the NFC championship game, en route to winning the franchise's fifth Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXIX.

Ken Norton Jr. was one of the key leaders of that 49er defense and without him, the 49ers might not have been the first NFL team to win five Super Bowls.

Now the Sharks haven't lost two straight Conference finals to the Blackhawks the way the 49ers had lost two straight to the Cowboys, but the analogy holds true nonetheless. A key contributor from the team that ended their title run a year ago is available, and bringing him in could be the answer.

After all, Norton Jr. had the following to say when he came over to the 49ers: "When I finally got here, I realized just how hungry this team was."

In other words, Norton Jr. was impressed by the drive his 49ers' teammates had to get past their demons and get to the top of the mountain. Already having been there, Norton was motivated to stay there and bring his new teammates alongside him.

That said, if Niemi wants to stay on top of the hockey mountain next season, San Jose is the place to be.

Sure, this San Jose team has yet to win the Cup, but like how the 1994 49ers were sick of losing, this Sharks team is sick of losing.

They are sick of having top level talent but not getting the job done.

If Niemi can't be with Chicago, what other team gives him a better chance to win a second straight Stanley Cup, and beat his former employers in the process?

Now, time will tell if the Sharks are going to make a serious run at bringing Niemi aboard. Depending on the cap room available and whether or not they want to bring in another goalie with Niittymaki already signed, they may or may not look into bringing him on. But as a Bay Area fan, it is at least fun to ponder the possibility of Niemi coming over.

And even if the move doesn't come to fruition, looking back at the last Bay Area team to win a championship is never a bad thing.

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I still think the Sharks were fools to let Evgeni go.

Despite the Cup, I feel like Niemi is still a big question mark in terms of his actual ability. He won't be cheap either.

Certainly Nittymaki is a downgrade. He has a career .903 Regular Season save percentage and no real playoff experience. Niemi has little regular season experience and a .910 playoff save %. Evgeni is .912/.913 regular and playoff.

Nabakov is not one of the top playoff goalies but he is better than their other options. Without a good playoff goalie you USUALLY don't get very far but the last two years with Fleury and Niemi have been glaring exceptions and some of the GM's have short memories.

San Jose is going to struggle this year.

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From Chicago Tribune :

...

"I thought it would get worked out all along and never really thought it wouldn't," Niemi said. "And then when it happened and they signed (Marty) Turco, I was real disappointed. I still am. But it worked out for them, so …"

Niemi didn't finish his sentence.

...

Luckily, he has that other career to fall back on.

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It really is too bad. Here is a guy that just backstopped Chicago to a Stanley Cup, and should have gotten a raise and a contract extension. Instead, he is having problems finding a job. I am sure he will find a job eventually. I would find it a little sad as well if I just won the championship, and then now can't find a job. Shouldn't a Stanley Cup on a resume mean that you are a little more valuable? Apparently not.

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Not if it was statistically one of the worst performances by a winning goalie in the history. Note: I said ONE of not completely positive on the others but I can imagine this is close. Win's a win but he was pretty awful but Leighton was somehow worse.

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Not if it was statistically one of the worst performances by a winning goalie in the history. Note: I said ONE of not completely positive on the others but I can imagine this is close. Win's a win but he was pretty awful but Leighton was somehow worse.

Meh, Fleury did worse that he did the previous season and won the cup.

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Not if it was statistically one of the worst performances by a winning goalie in the history. Note: I said ONE of not completely positive on the others but I can imagine this is close. Win's a win but he was pretty awful but Leighton was somehow worse.

Hard to be worse than a team's 5th string goalie, no matter which team. Incredible Philadelphia automatic brought Leighton and ONLY Leighton back of the guys with expiring contracts. The guy who was the 5th stringer going into last season is the only guy still with one of the Cup finalists as a starter, unless Huet puts himself back in the #1 spot before the start of the year.

Edited by eva unit zero

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Leighton absolutely showed plenty of potential and I believe they made the right choice with bringing him back. But with Niemi I really don't see a whole lot in him, granted he won the Cup with the stacked team he had in front of him. He often looked below average to me and that Cup ring, although some fight their whole careers to get to, will most likely be his only. And meh, I guess thats not too shabby for him.

Edited by HankthaTank

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Fleury and Niemi's Cup run #'s

Fleury-

GP- 24 W- 16 L- 8 MIN- 1447 GA- 63 SO- 0 GAA- 2.61 SV%- .908

Niemi-

GP- 22 W- 16 L-6 MIN- 1,322 GA- 58 SA- 645 GAA- 2.63 SV% .910

Quite comparable indeed but as we have seen Fleury has been less than stellar in the last few years as I see him being less relevant this year as well. Can't really find the Finals #'s for both but hopefully someone is better at the search button than I.

Edited by HankthaTank

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Leighton absolutely showed plenty of potential and I believe they made the right choice with bringing him back. But with Niemi I really don't see a whole lot in him, granted he won the Cup with the stacked team he had in front of him. He often looked below average to me and that Cup ring, although some fight their whole careers to get to, will most likely be his only. And meh, I guess thats not too shabby for him.

Leighton played poorly for most of the stretch, and had a couple of hot games that let him play the rest of the stretch (Boucher was the starter at the beginning of the run, and has had several good NHL playoff runs in his career)

Niemi's playoff looked at least as good as Leighton. And more importantly, since when did 29 year-olds ever have "potential" anyway? Michael Leighton has already PLAYED his career, he'll be lucky to play another year or two. He's a VETERAN. He has no "potential" at all.

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Fleury and Niemi's Cup run #'s

Fleury-GP 24W 16L 8MIN 1447GA 63SO 0GAA 2.61SV% .908

Niemi-

GP 22W 16L 6MIN 1,322GA 58SA 645GAA 2.63SV% .910

Quite comparable indeed but as we have seen Fleury has been less than stellar in the last few years as I see him being less relevant this year as well.

also factor in that Niemi's numbers were boosted by the generally low scores and shots on net by Vancouver and San Jose... his numbers were pretty poor in the SCF actually, whereas (and trust me, it hurts me to say this, as I hate saying anything positive about any player of the Penguins) Fleury pretty much stood on his head for their cup in '09 against Detroit in the Finals...

just something to keep in mind - big time players, play big in big games...

Fleury's SCF numbers - look at just the SCF series:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/3341/gamelog;_ylt=AqrjM3hlPa8CVRFke_ghdJ5ivLYF?year=2008

Niemi's SCF numbers - look at just the SCF series:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/4432/gamelog;_ylt=AmM208uL1C6Nir_TQIzqkxdivLYF

Edited by stevkrause

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Not if it was statistically one of the worst performances by a winning goalie in the history. Note: I said ONE of not completely positive on the others but I can imagine this is close. Win's a win but he was pretty awful but Leighton was somehow worse.

In the finals, yeah it was one of the worst but through all 4 rounds it wasn't as bad. Fleury was worse in 2009. 0.908 versus Niemi at 0.910

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Niemi will get signed by someone eventually. Apparently, it won't be the Islanders.

Antti Niemi: Rumor Control: Isles not into Niemi

Antti Niemi is reportedly not the radar of the New York Islanders, according to a well-placed source. Rick DiPietro (knee) is progressing towards being with the team come training camp and Dwayne Roloson is also in the fold. There had been some rumors floating around the Islanders were a possible destination for Niemi, but that does not appear to be the case. Stay tuned. Aug. 17 - 6:58 am et

Edited by Hockeytown0001

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also factor in that Niemi's numbers were boosted by the generally low scores and shots on net by Vancouver and San Jose... his numbers were pretty poor in the SCF actually, whereas (and trust me, it hurts me to say this, as I hate saying anything positive about any player of the Penguins) Fleury pretty much stood on his head for their cup in '09 against Detroit in the Finals...

just something to keep in mind - big time players, play big in big games...

Fleury's SCF numbers - look at just the SCF series:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/3341/gamelog;_ylt=AqrjM3hlPa8CVRFke_ghdJ5ivLYF?year=2008

Niemi's SCF numbers - look at just the SCF series:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/4432/gamelog;_ylt=AmM208uL1C6Nir_TQIzqkxdivLYF

Actually,

Fleury was great in the 4 games that they won and sucked in the other 3

.900

.885

.762

If you average the 3 games that he sucked with the 4 that he was great you get a mediocre performance.

Look at ALL of his playoff games in all years and you find that he has a CAREER 0.911 save percentage compared to Niemi's 0.910.

Neither Niemi or Fleury are good playoff goalies.

And as far as big games, don't forget that the Pit-Det series was tied 2-2 with game 5 being the swing game and what did Fleury do. He was pulled after letting in 5 goals and finished the game with a 0.762 save percentage. So much for coming up big.......

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Actually,

Fleury was great in the 4 games that they won and sucked in the other 3

.900

.885

.762

If you average the 3 games that he sucked with the 4 that he was great you get a mediocre performance.

Look at ALL of his playoff games in all years and you find that he has a CAREER 0.911 save percentage compared to Niemi's 0.910.

Neither Niemi or Fleury are good playoff goalies.

And as far as big games, don't forget that the Pit-Det series was tied 2-2 with game 5 being the swing game and what did Fleury do. He was pulled after letting in 5 goals and finished the game with a 0.762 save percentage. So much for coming up big.......

The last good playoff goalie, and we are talking exceptional, was Osgood back in 2008. He posted a 1.55 GAA with a .930 Save percentage in 19 games. In fact, just looking at the cup winning goalies since the lockout, I believe he had the best stats in the last 8 years in the playoffs.

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