Antti Niemi won a Stanley Cup in 2010 and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2013. Which is worth mentioning, because in 2014-15 he’ll be fighting for the No. 1 job in San Jose with a guy, Alex Stalock, who has just 18 NHL starts, plus one more in the playoffs, to his name.
Such is life for goalies in the NHL, where memories are short and having no real track record can sometimes be an advantage, since track records include the bad stuff, too.
Per the San Jose Mercury News, Sharks coach Todd McLellan says that both Niemi and Stalock will have an “opportunity to establish themselves” early in the regular season, “and if somebody gets hot, we’ll run that hot goaltender for a little while.”
McLellan added: “In the past we’ve probably been slower to transfer responsibility from one to the other over a given period. That may happen quicker this year.”
Numbers wise, Stalock was the better goalie in 2014-15. The 27-year-old went 12-5-2 with an impressive .932 save percentage, while Niemi was 39-17-7 with a still-respectable .913 save percentage.
It was in the playoffs where Niemi really struggled, losing four of six starts and posting an .884 save percentage, as the Sharks famously blew a 3-0 series lead to the Kings. Stalock was given the chance to start Game 6, but allowed four goals on 30 shots in a loss.
Another factor in all this? Niemi is a 31-year-old pending unrestricted free agent, while Stalock signed a two-year extension this past summer.