San Jose Sharks

Stars say Niemi was top target, but still have faith in ‘elite’ Lehtonen

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SUNRISE — Dallas GM Jim Nill knew he needed to upgrade his goaltending position.

So on the second day of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, he did exactly that.

Following Saturday’s intriguing trade — acquiring Antti Niemi’s negotiating rights from San Jose for a seventh-round pick, ahead of free agency opening on July 1 — Nill said Niemi was always the club’s primary target to pair with incumbent No. 1 Kari Lehtonen.

“[Niemi] was the top guy that we targeted as a free agent, if we were going to go that route,” Nill explained. “You don’t like to lose picks, but it was a chance to get the guy, let’s talk to him and try to get a deal done.

“You don’t know where the goalie market’s going to go. It can change fast. We knew it was a position we had to take care of.”

Nill said Dallas was already “very close” to signing Niemi, who brings a wealth of experience with him to Texas. A Vezina nominee in 2013, the veteran Finn has started at least 60 games in four of the last five seasons and notched a career-high 39 wins in ’13-14.

So, what does that mean for Lehtonen?

“Kari’s still an elite goalie,” Nill explained. “We’re in a tough situation with our travel. We probably travel as much as anybody in the league, back-to-back games, I really think it’s becoming a two-goalie league now.

“Kari’s the first one to admit he had a tough year last year. He’s going to bounce back. He’s been working on changing his conditioning over the summer, and competition’s healthy. Our goal is to win the Cup and this is going to help us get there.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Niemi fits in Dallas, both in terms of finances and with Lehtonen. At 31, it’s unlikely Niemi will score as big a deal as his previous one — a four-year, $15.2 million deal with a $3.8M cap hit — and it remains to be seen how he’ll co-exist with his fellow countryman (the two were teammates on Finland’s bronze medal-winning team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi).

To hear Nill explain it, though, money wasn’t going to get in the way of landing the guy he wanted.

“We have cap room right now,” he said. “We knew we had to improve this position, so we went this direction.”

Stars acquire rights to Niemi

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SUNRISE — The Dallas Stars have acquired goalie Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks. As Niemi is a pending unrestricted free agent, the return was limited to a seventh-round pick (193rd overall) in today’s draft.

The Stars now hold Niemi’s negotiating rights until June 30.

Dallas was expected to address its goaltending this offseason. The position was a major issue for the Stars last season — perhaps the number-one reason they missed the playoffs.

In Niemi, they get a former Stanley Cup winner and Vezina finalist.

“Antti is a proven goaltender who has played and succeeded at the highest levels,” GM Jim Nill said in a release. “He’s one of the hardest working goalies out there and we look forward to working towards an agreement.”

If Niemi signs, he’ll presumably form a tandem with fellow Finn Kari Lehtonen, who still has three years left on his contract.

Related: UFA of the Day: Antti Niemi

Sharks re-sign Karlsson: two years, $3.25 million

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The San Jose Sharks have re-upped with one of their few bright spots from last season, Melker Karlsson.

Karlsson has agreed to a two-year, $3.25 million extension that carries a $1.625M average annual cap hit — a nice bump from the $825,000 he made last year.

The 24-year-old Swede, who came to North America last year after spending all of his professional career in his native country, finished the season with 13 goals and 24 points in 53 games. Karlsson also averaged 15:26 TOI per night, this after starting the year with AHL Worcester (where he had 10 points in 20 games).

As mentioned above, Karlsson’s performance was one of the rare positives in an otherwise negative campaign for the Sharks. The club failed to make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade but Karlsson, plucked from SHL club Skelleftea, showed some real promise and a goalscoring touch that could benefit San Jose moving forward.

PHT Morning Skate: Departing John Scott jokingly takes jab at Sharks

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Before John Scott officially becomes a free agent, he decided to jokingly call out his former San Jose Sharks’ teammates. (CSN Bay Area)

With Jeff Skinner reportedly on the market, is there a chance that he’ll go to Pittsburgh? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jack Eichel has something in common with Indiana Jones. (Puck Daddy)

Dylan Strome talks about the nerves that come with draft day. (NHL.com)

The Boston Bruins recent draft history has been less than stellar. (Boston Herald)

Here are 10 players that might mess with people’s draft predictions. (The Hockey Writers)

Pekka Rinne has a new Mad Max inspired mask (Instagram)

Report: Sharks ink Grosenick to a two-year, $1.2 million deal

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The San Jose Sharks have reportedly signed goaltender Troy Grosenick to a two-year extension.

According to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie, the deal is for $1.2 million and is a two-way deal for 2015-16 before becoming one-way for 2016-17.

Grosenick spent a bulk of the 2014-15 season with the American Hockey League’s Worcester Sharks compiling a 20-13-3 record to go along with a 2.63 G.A.A. and a .906 save percentage in 36 games.

The 25-year-old also appeared in two NHL games with San Jose going 1-1-0 with a 1.53 G.A.A. and a .948 save percentage.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound goaltender out of Brookfield, WI was originally a free agent by the Sharks out of Union College in April 2013.

Related: Report: San Jose interested in acquiring Bieksa