The San Jose Sharks signed Antero Niittymaki to a two-year, $4 million contract according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. In case you really hate simple division, his salary cap hit will be $2 million per year.
I have to admit, this deal is a little surprising. It’s obviously not an enormous amount of money, but it seems a little high for a slightly above average goalie. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be a shoo-in for the No. 1 spot vacated by Evgeni Nabokov, but $2 million is a lot for a backup. It could be that they’re planning on getting a 1a-1b setup going.
In case you’re not familiar with Niittymaki, he spent most of his career in tandem situations with the Philadelphia Flyers before moving to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2008-09 season. Considering the fact that the Lightning were lousy last year, his 21-18-10 record isn’t half bad. He’s 83-79-33 career record with a 2.98 GAA and a 90.3 save percentage.
Of course, many will remember him for unexpectedly leading Finland to a silver medal during the 2006 Olympics.
It’s a great opportunity for Niittymaki but a slightly puzzling move for San Jose. I would have recommended going after a similarly under-the-radar but more seasoned netminder like Chris Mason, but perhaps the former St. Louis Blues goalie might be asking for too much money.