Tag: San Jose Sharks

Antti Niemi,

Pricey Platoon? Stars reportedly sign Niemi for three years, $13.5M


The Dallas Stars aren’t kidding about improving their goaltending situation, or at least throwing a ton of money at the problem.

GM Jim Nill handed Antti Niemi a three-year, $13.5 million contract on Monday, according to reporters including HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman. The CBC’s Tim Wharnsby adds that Niemi was handed a limited no-trade clause, as well.

Upon first impact, one would think that expensive Stars (former?) franchise goalie Kari Lehtonen might be out. After all, when you combine Lehtonen’s $5.9 million cap hit and Niemi’s reported $4.5 million mark, that’s a whopping $10.4 million in space devoted solely to goalies.

Publicly speaking, Nill insists that there will be a platoon situation in Dallas, so perhaps we’ll see a two-headed Finn monster? The Stars didn’t officially confirm the terms of the deal, but they released a statement on the signing.

“We acquired Antti’s rights with the expectation to get him signed and we’re thrilled to have come to an agreement this quickly,” Nill said. “This gives us two upper-echelon goaltenders and the quality of depth at that position will provide us a great chance to win on a nightly basis.”

If this sticks, it makes for an odd structure in Dallas. The Stars are enjoying crazy savings with Jamie Benn ($5.25 million cap hit) and Tyler Seguin (just $5.75 million), yet they’re spending big on their goalies and Jason Spezza. At the same time, their shaky-on-paper defense is at least cheap, if nothing else.

Some, erm, cynics aren’t smiling upon the move(s):

Pretty odd, but it’s the beginning of the summer, so we’ll see where the Stars go with things. For better or worse, they’re not standing idly by.

Also, a note for San Jose Sharks fans:

Even after flurry of trades, goalie market is far from settled

Antti Niemi

There were seven different trades over the course of Friday and Saturday that involved a goaltender, but even after that there are teams that still need to address their situation between the pipes. With the free agent period just around the corner and the trade market now in full swing, the pieces are likely to continue to fall into place rapidly. While we have a breather though, let’s take a look at where we stand.

Has Dallas addressed its goaltending needs?

Kari Lehtonen failed to live up to expectations last season so the Dallas Stars would naturally like to hedge their bets going forward. They’ve already taken a step towards that end by acquiring the rights to Antti Niemi from San Jose, but it remains to be seen if they can sign the netminder before he become an unrestricted free agent.

If they do sign Niemi, that might not settle their goaltending situation. He has spent the better part of his career serving as a starter and while his last two seasons haven’t been amazing, it’s likely that he’ll expect a significantly bigger salary than your typical backup. Which isn’t an issue by itself, but Dallas is still tied to Lehtonen for another three seasons at $5.9 million in cap space annually. That means Dallas will be dedicating a lot of its cap to goaltending and that’s something that may complicate matters for the squad unless it’s addressed.

What’s next for San Jose?

Meanwhile, San Jose still needs someone to work with Alex Stalock. The 27-year-old netminder had a 2.62 GAA and .902 save percentage in 22 games last season, so ideally the Sharks will want someone that can at least seriously challenge him for the starting job.

There are some noteworthy pending UFAs out there including Viktor Fasth, Karri Ramo, and Michal Neuvirth, but it’s also possible San Jose will make another trade.

“We’ve been exploring things for quite awhile, a lot of it in the trade market obviously,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson told CSN Bay Area. “As we’ve looked at it, we think there’s probably more goalies than there are teams. There’s more people that are available or could be available in discussions than you guys probably hear about.”

Who will be Steve Mason’s backup in Philadelphia?

With Ray Emery’s contract set to expire, the Flyers are in the market for a backup goaltender. They didn’t want to take part in the flurry of goaltending trades though.

“I didn’t want to give up an asset for a backup, quite honestly,” Flyers GM Ron Hextall told CSN Philly. “Did I talk to anybody? People called and I found out the prices.”

With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Philadelphia find its number two netminder on the free agent market.

Anaheim has created something of a logjam

When the Anaheim Ducks acquired Anton Khudobin from Carolina, it led some to naturally wonder if 21-year-old goaltender John Gibson was on the block. Ducks GM Bob Murray’s response was not family friendly, but the short version of his answer is: No.

So we can only assume that this issue won’t be addressed this summer, which makes it unique among the goaltending situations discussed here. Even still, it is awkward as this likely means that Gibson will be expected to spend the 2015-16 campaign in the minors after posting a decent 2.60 GAA and .914 save percentage in 23 games with Anaheim last season. This might just be a short-term setback for him though as Khudobin only has a year left on his contract before he can test the unrestricted free agent market.

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

Antti Niemi

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

Antti Niemi

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

San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks
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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.