2010 NHL Free Agency: Sharks sign Antero Niittymaki to two-year, $4M deal

niitty.jpgThe 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.

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    After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

    Claude Julien

    The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

    Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

    Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
    Joe MorrowKevan Miller
    Matt IrwinZach Trotman

    And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

    That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

    “I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

    But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

    “It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

    And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

    Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

    All in all, it was a tough night.

    “We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

    The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

    Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

    Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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    Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

    Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

    A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

    That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

    As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

    Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.