Sure sounds as though San Jose is ready to move on from Antti Niemi.
Niemi, the club’s starting goalie for most of the last four seasons, doesn’t appear close to a new deal, agent Markus Lehto told CSN Bay Area on Monday.
The Sharks have had “no serious discussions” with pending unrestricted free agent goalie Antti Niemi about a contract extension, his agent told CSNCalifornia.com on Monday via email.
On April 15, Niemi was asked if he’d like to return to the Sharks.
“Yeah, we’ll see what happens,” he said.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has twice declined to comment on Niemi, as well as the team’s other free agents in his media sessions after the season. Matt Irwin, John Scott and Scott Hannan all have expiring contracts as well, and all would hit the open market on July 1.
It’s long been believed the Sharks would part ways with the Finnish netminder this summer. He was a central figure in the infamous playoff collapse to Los Angeles and, at the start of this season, was thrown into an open competition with backup Alex Stalock for the No. 1 gig. Niemi didn’t win the job so much as Stalock failed to grab hold of it and, as a result, started the majority of games (61, to Stalock’s 19) — but Niemi also posted one of his lowest save percentages (.914) and highest GAAs (2.59) since joining the Sharks in 2010.
It’ll be interesting to see what San Jose does in goal moving forward. In late February, we passed along a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in which he suggested the Sharks were looking for “a 25-year-old goalie who can play a few years for them.” Shortly thereafter, they signed 24-year-old University of Wisconsin standout Joel Rumple to a one-year deal, putting him in the mix with Stalock and AHL Worcester’s Troy Grosenick to compete for minutes next season.
Based on that trio’s lack of big-league experience, though, it’s likely the Sharks will target a more proven entity in goal.