Niemi

 

Of all the cities where Antti Niemi could have played, very few ever imagined that his final destination would be San Jose. Even I figured it was only a matter of time before he cut his losses and played anywhere that guaranteed him enough starts to improve.

 

You know…like Finland…or Sweden, maybe?

 

And of all the frustrating rumors floating around over the past few weeks, how many times did the Sharks find a way to let people know they were totally comfortable with Antero Niittymaki and Thomas Greiss as a tandem? Too many to even pay attention.

 

Well…surprise, surprise. Niemi is now a Shark for the 2010-11 season.

 

So what exactly happened that caused San Jose’s ship to change course? Where, and more importantly why did the Sharks compromise their original plan of attack? Which side manipulated the other and what does this mean for the Sharks’ goaltending pipeline? Let’s break it down, School of Block style!

 

When dissecting a major acquisition or trade that drastically changes the complexion of a team’s goalie depth chart, I break down situations. As you know, goalies cannot be judged by statistics alone. One must take into account who they are as humans and athletes, where they come from, where they are going and what the organization might have planned for each goalie’s future.

 

Essentially, in order to get a better understanding of the influences behind this signing, one must start at the top. Enter Wayne Thomas, the Sharks vice president, assistant general manager and two-way goalie consultant. He not only works with the Sharks goalies, but the ones in Worcester as well. His resume is beyond impressive, staggering in fact, as he has a lot of control over what the Sharks are doing in the goaltending department.

“For the past four seasons, Thomas has taken on a more advanced, day-to-day role in working with the Sharks goaltenders on- and off-the-ice.”

 

Having an “off-ice” role in goalie development, to me, means the following – video analysis and coaching the non-tangible aspects of motivation and mental toughness. Thomas clearly knows how to teach the true elements of the position that can take an average goalie and make them great. In that sense, who wouldn’t enjoy the opportunity to continue molding a guy like Niemi?

 

It’s impossible to argue with someone who has such a strong influence on the organization. Thomas is like a wizard – you don’t challenge their wisdom and you soak in every morsel of knowledge you possibly can. Has there been a prospect in the Sharks’ system in the last decade that hasn’t developed into a quality NHL goalie? Exactly.

 

Speaking of previous Sharks goalies that developed under Thomas’ watchful eye, one angle of the Niemi signing that perpetuates tradition is the fact that San Jose has a rich history of developing goalies from Finland – namely Miikka Kiprusoff (and Vesa Toskala, but don’t laugh).

 

When Kiprusoff first displayed his acrobatic aura in a Sharks uniform, just like Niemi, he had just spent one full season in the AHL. The following season (2000-01), Kiprusoff spent the majority of his time in Kentucky, but did play five NHL games, including three more in the playoffs. Niemi on the other hand was able to steal the backup job from Corey Crawford and re-write the history of what we know as a “successful” rookie goalie.

 

Kiprusoff would continue to develop his style in teal, spending the next season going 7-6-3 in 20 games for the Sharks and a perfect 4-0 with the AHL’s Cleveland Barons. By the end of the 2001-02 season, Kiprusoff had built up a reputation strong enough to solidify his presence in the NHL for good. He would spend the 2002-03 season with San Jose, but he really struggled before finally being traded to the Calgary Flames.

 

One season spent exclusively in the AHL. A second season spent mainly in the AHL with a few NHL games. A third season spent mainly in the NHL with a few AHL games. A fourth season spent exclusively in the NHL before reaching peak development and sent off to the Flames.

 

What does this say about San Jose’s plan of attack with a “raw-skilled” Finnish goalie? It’s a project that the organization is not afraid to spend time and money on to accomplish their goal of creating a winning goalie. The project is dictated through consistent analysis and scouting and watched closely by Thomas.

 

What does this tell me about San Jose’s current trifecta? They are all placed on the same pedestal heading into training camp, but the two goalies that they feel gives them the best chance to win IN THE PLAYOFFS have been established.

 

Let’s look at each goalie and how their specific traits influence this signing.

ANTERO NIITTYMAKI - A hard-working goalie that was signed for a reason, Niittymaki spent five seasons with the Flyers and one with the Lightning in a very consistent manner. Other than the hip injuries, he was a serviceable goalie that persevered in a variety of roles and did the job quietly. With a two-year contract that pays him $2 million each year, the onus is on him to play his way into another deal. Per CapGeek.com, he’s an unrestricted free-agent when the contract expires in June of 2012.

 

His fantasy value certainly takes a hit compared to where it was yesterday, but he can still win 30 games if he’s at the top of his game and playing in a good rhythm. He’s no less of a goalie, but he’s definitely being challenged now. No margin for error, no chance for complacency. Most 30 year-old goalies would welcome this kind of competition.

FANTASY PROJECTION: Expect close to 40 starts, around a 2.25 GAA with a .915 save percentage and four shutouts. He’ll notch 20 wins easily and could reach 25+. It’s a drastic drop from the 40 wins and 60 starts he was expected to get, but he has the chance to establish a starting role if he plays above expectations.

ANTTI NIEMI - You can’t pass up the most recent Cup-winning goalie. Thomas loves to develop and mold Finnish goalies, just like he did with Kiprusoff and Toskala. There’s a bond between two Finnish goalies that have worked in other cities and situations before. He, like Niittymaki, is a silent assassin that gets the job done awkwardly, yes, but quietly. He doesn’t carry a big ego and the fans will rally around his great work ethic. Two million for one year is a no-brainer.

 

The Sharks had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Regardless of how Niemi looks, how he stops pucks or what he did last year, he’s about to enter his sophomore season with a strong team, a Stanley Cup ring and tons of potential. What goalie coach/vice president/assistant GM wouldn’t want to try and mold Niemi? Direct from the confirmation story on the Sharks’ official website:

“Antti’s play last season speaks for itself,” said Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. “Our goal this summer was to create the best goaltending unit we could and we feel we have successfully done that.”

 

They sure have. And the boost it brings to the team’s chances - even if for one season – is exciting and positive. It definitely impacts the goalies below, but again, it’s only for one year.

FANTASY PROJECTION: Expect close to 40 starts and around a 2.30 GAA with a .910 save percentage and four or five shutouts. Like Niittymaki, he could notch 25-30 wins depending on his ability to play in a solid rhythm and get consistent starts. Considering he had no fantasy value at all yesterday, this is amazing news for Niemi owners. Celebrate with a glass of champagne and hope for some consistency.

THOMAS GREISS - Has been developing steadily in the Sharks’ system since the 2006-07 season. Per CapGeek.com, he’s signed for the season under a one-way contract, so he would have to clear waivers and is eligible for re-entry waivers.

 

To understand why Greiss is in a difficult situation, just take a casual glance at the type of goalies you see in Niittymaki, Niemi and Stalock. Then glance at what kind of goalie Greiss is. He is not the same type of mold and he has many different traits compared to the other three. He is, in my mind, the odd man out.

 

Where he goes from here is unknown, but a decision will be made by the coaching staff that should set him up for future success in the NHL. If Greiss goes down to Worcester to play with Stalock, it’s a sign that they don’t feel Tyson Sexsmith is ready to compete with those two. It doesn’t mean his value is any less, it just means he needs to work harder. It’s a tough pill for Greiss to swallow, but it’s not the end of the world.

 

At 24 years of age, Greiss has a bright future ahead of him. It must be said that just because Niemi is now part of the Sharks organization doesn’t mean they think Greiss is incapable of winning in the playoffs. It is not a lack of confidence in him, either. It’s more a sense that Niemi brings dynamics and assets that Greiss doesn’t. They developed Greiss in a similar fashion to that of Kiprusoff and there’s no reason why Greiss can’t be traded to a team that sets him up to be successful for many seasons to come.

FANTASY PROJECTION: Expect Greiss to battle hard in training camp, but ultimately be the odd man out. It is unclear where he plays this season. A trade or waiver claim is certainly possible. Regardless, his ability and potential is only affected depending on where he’s moved to or who wants to trade for him.

ALEX STALOCK - Extremely bright future in the NHL with the ability to stand tall and win big games through a tremendous work ethic and a passionate energy level. Is not the most refined goalie, but plays to his advantages and never seems rattled. Shattered records in Worcester last year, proving he has the ability to develop into a brilliant NHL goalie. Must be one of Thomas’ favorite students because all you hear about with this kid is how much he loves to learn.

 

At 23 years of age, Stalock is a young goalie with wisdom well beyond his years. He’s extremely appealing in the sense that he could be the missing piece in a few more years. Signing Niemi to a simple one-year deal allows Stalock to develop this season and then have an opportunity to sign a new contract that keeps him in San Jose for good. Per CapGeek.com, Stalock is a restricted free agent after this season.

CONCLUSION AND FINAL THOUGHTS

 

In conclusion, I think the positive points that rise to the surface clearly outweigh the negative ones. The team is better as a whole. The depth chart is more competitive. The organization has more assets. The move makes sense. Niemi fits the mold of a Wayne Thomas goaltender. There is a sense of confidence and assurance that Niemi has a great opportunity to improve and to put the fate of his NHL future in his own hands.

 

I think San Jose did a great job of putting the heat on the goalies to perform. This was not a factor in previous seasons, as Evgeni Nabokov was always the workhorse and was rarely challenged by another goalie since the lockout.

 

Personally, I think a major point is that Niittymaki, Stalock and Niemi are similar in the sense that they stop the puck in unconventional ways, have good net presence, are remarkably cool under pressure and are capable of winning big games in the playoffs. That’s the trend I’ve been able to uncover here. Niittymaki has that big game moxy and ability from the 2006 Olympics. Stalock has it from his high school and NCAA days. Niemi has it from last season. All three aren’t the most technically skilled goalies in the world, but they know how to win and they’re durable.

 

Those are a few elusive ingredients that Greiss has not proven or shown yet. The ability to win big games, the deep-playoff experiences and the mental toughness. It’s not that he isn’t capable of those things, but he just hasn’t proved it yet. But he does have the potential and the brilliant technique and foot speed.

 

In that sense, compared to the other three, Greiss is perfect trade bait. He’s appealing to other teams with other plans, or teams that feel he’s capable of evolving in their corner. Truth be told – someone out there would definitely be interested in acquiring him. He’s extremely talented and it’s obvious to most scouts.

 

Ultimately, signing Niemi for one year is smart. For all of his pundits that still exist out there, they are only looking skin deep. It has to be established (especially by now) that Niemi is a battler, not an elite talent. He is now partnered with a comrade in Niittymaki and is under the wings of one of the most influential goalie coaches an organization has ever had in Thomas.

 

The decision to sign in San Jose had to be an easy one. A winning team on the cusp of the Stanley Cup Finals. A place where he’s guaranteed to play some games. A home where, most importantly, he is in a position to improve. Again, it’s a no-brainer.

 

I personally see the playing situation as a similar tone to that of the Ottawa Senators with Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire. Neither has firmly established they are the rightful starter. They both have to push each other and prove to the coaching staff and their team that they deserve long strings of starts. Of course it helps Elliott’s cause that Leclaire is a band-aid boy, but when he’s healthy, Leclaire certainly brings an element of skill and winning to the team. It’s not the most optimistic situation right now, but why is Ottawa comfortable with it? Because the future is bright with Robin Lehner coming through the pipelines.

 

Reflected in San Jose’s situation, I see a great 1A-1B situation where either goalie could be considered the starter. It will simply come down to who plays better in training camp, who wants it more in the pre-season and who gets the first opportunity to run with the starting “tag” on their shoulders.

 

You will read a lot of stuff out there that says Niemi is still no good, that Niittymaki is average and that San Jose has really shot themselves in the fins. But that’s crazy talk. San Jose brought in two goaltenders that, as I’ve been pointing out, are capable of winning big games. The regular season success will be there and those will be perfect opportunities for Thomas and his goalie assistants to really hone skills and prepare each goalie for the playoffs. And since neither of them will play more than 60 games, they will both be well-rested as well. That might have been the one elusive ingredient missing from Evgeni Nabokov’s runs with the Sharks in years past.

 

I’ll leave you with one final thought – Thomas up in the press box watching Niemi slowly erode the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. He saw first-hand what Niemi was able to do in a series where he didn’t face consistent shots and had to win behind a strong set of mental skills.

 

Those are the kind of goalies that win Stanley Cups. And that’s why Niemi is now a member of the San Jose Sharks.

 


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Comments (19)add comment

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... Alright, here we go...

1. PAUL - No offense, but I think a lot of what you said was very faulty. First of all, just because Niemi is only signed for one year doesn't mean the Sharks automatically refuse to give him an extension before the season ends. They signed him for one year, but you have no idea if they plan on letting him go or re-signing him to another new deal. The fact is that it's open-ended. They COULD ... so it's a season in which they will closely scout his progress. They aren't dumb. If Niemi shows even a slight and steady improvement in his skill, they might choose to keep him around. You can't rule it out. And it's not all dependent on his play. What if Niitty gets seriously injured and Stalock's development slows down?

Secondly, you said, "When attempting to project future stats, its important to try to base those figures on SOME kind of history." Again, no offesne, but that's extremely faulty for goalies. You can look at history for a team's development, like I did with Kipper in SJ, but there's no way historic stats for Goalie A on a team will correlate to Goalie B on a team. Every goalie is different. Every goalie faces different SITUATIONS and therefore have completely different stats projections.

Doing things like Niitty < Niemi < Nabokov is completely faulty when trying to project stats. None of them have anything to do with each other. You've never even seen Niitty or Niemi in a Sharks uniform before so how can you possibly say who will be more statistically valuable? You have to look at the goalies from a SITUATIONAL standpoint, not at their stats from one season to the next.

Fzusher,

You are right and that comment I made was over-dramatic and pretty faulty in terms of their super-deep prospects. I should have clarified what I meant a little more. If you look at every NHL team's prospects, basically 90% of them don't pan out to anything. Obviously you've come to find the same thing. But yeah, I probably should have omitted those 2-3 sentences! Good research and updates in that regard.

Fzusher is also dead on with his Sateri notes. Sateri has an out clause in his entry-level contract with the Sharks. They are basically watching him from afar. Sateri is a big dude and will continue to steadily develop overseas. Very similar to what San Jose was doing with Karlsson. You might see Sateri come over next Spring to practice with the team, but yeah he's still 1-2 years away from playing in North America.

Heemskerk is an overage-eligible candidate for Everett and actually attended their training camp. He'll have to earn a pro job in camp otherwise yeah he'll be sent back to the Silvertips.

David,

Francois Allaire DID NOT ruin Toskala AT ALL. Toskala ruined himself. There is no NHL goalie coach out there that changes a goalie's technique to the point they are "ruined." He's one of the best goalie coaches of all time. EVERY NHL goalie coach knows that THEY are the ones that have to adapt to the team's goalies. The reason Toskala ruined himself in Toronto is due to a lack of confidence, consistency and size. Toskala only publicly spoke out like that because he was frustrated with a lack of results. But Allaire gave him all of the tools needed to succeed in today's NHL. He teaches goalies to play high in their crease and if you don't have the confidence to play high, your going to struggle no matter what kind of style you have. Maybe they didn't have a good relationship, but Allaire is a wizard. If a goalie doesn't agree with the style he teaches, then get out of town. But Allaire didn't ruin Toskala, otherwise you wouldn't say that he can develop Gustavsson.

It's okay to think the Wayne Thomas effect is moot. But it's not poop. I laughed at that, then I laughed at you. A one-year contract doesn't mean it's just one year and that's it. If he develops and gets along with Thomas and gets comfortable in the system, they will extend him or re-sign him. In fact, a one-year deal is even smarter in that regard. The market changes every summer. Of every single UFA & RFA goalie signed this summer, only Halak got more than a two-year deal.

OK this was one damn long comment haha. Thanks for reading everyone!! Great comments all around, especially Fzusher!
September 05, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... Whoa I missed a tonnn of comments. Let me go through these and respond. Thanks for reading everyone!

Also Sateri has agreed to honor his contract with Tappara ... it does have an out clause but for this season, Sateri is still playing overseas and that's why he's not really mentioned in the article.
September 05, 2010
Votes: -1

lcbtd said:

germant
Fantastic!!!!! Very thorough article Justin. Great read all around. The breakdown of each goalie was awesome and the speculation that Greiss is the odd man out is probably bang on.

However, coming from a Harri Sateri owner, I was just a tad disappointed in your not including him in your article because I'd really like your take on this kid but, as usual, fzusher comes through in the clutch and provided me with a great read on Sateri.

Great read from top to bottom.
September 05, 2010
Votes: +0

Todd Dmitruk said:

Deets
great article yep great article and it's pretty damn close to what i said on the page where they said that they signed niemi. they have both proven that they can come up big when it matters most whereas nabby never did, so i think that the competition between them for starts plus the fact that they have both performed admirably well in pressure packed situations makes the sharks better than when they just had nabby last year. check out what i wrote and you will see that i was there on the same page as you all along justin. good stuff!!
September 03, 2010
Votes: +1

David Lutz said:

BodyBruiser
... Antti Niemi just won the stanley cup, yes Chicago was a favourite no matter who was in net, however a goalie all on his ownsome can lose a series, Niemi made the save when it counted most which makes him a winner and is a great signing, period. I'd put him in a Osgood range, doesn't look good in net struggles at times, but proves he is a playoff winner.

The whole Wayne Thomas factor is mute to me. I seen one of the best goalie coaches Francois Allaire ruin Vesa Toskala. Toskala tried to take Allaire's advice but in the end Toskala ended up pubicly saying it wasn't working and I'm going back to what got me here, he never regained that form. I believe Allaire can develope "The Monster".

The question is does Niemi faulter under Thomas as Toskala did under Allaire or lets say he has success, now he is a UFA once again and gone. To say they signed him to a 1 year deal to develope him is a bunch of poop, he is signed to do the exact same thing he did last year, play in net on a team with a bunch of 1A-1B talent and hope they will win the cup anyway.
September 03, 2010
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

fzusher
Sateri They signed him to keep his rights, but as far as I know were intending to keep him in Finland for now. They've got Stalock, Sexmith, and Hutton signed for the pros (Heemskerk will probably return to Everett for another season), and now maybe also Greiss, so Sateri would have found it hard to get good minutes (Stalock's entry level runs out at the end of the season so they really need to get a sense of what they've got with him now). He is younger than Stalock and Sexmith, but is already a starter for a contender in Finland, so he'll be getting much more valuable experience playing there. Plus his contract in Finland runs through next season.

I own Sateri in two keepers and I am not worried by all this. As Justin suggests, Kiprusoff's career path is a good guide here. Kiprusoff was brought to North America at age 23, after 3 years as a starter in Europe. However, Kiprusoff only became a starter at 20, and while his numbers were decent the first two starter seasons (in Sweden), it was only in his third season as a starter (back in Finland) that he posted eye catching numbers and made his national team - that was his breakout year. Sateri, who is now 20, became a starter at 19 and posted good regular season numbers, but was less impressive in the playoff. So there is clearly more work to be done, but his development is ahead of Kiprusoff's at the same age. However, in the season before being brought over, Kiprusoff had a dominant playoff performance in Finland (1.55 GAA in 10 games). That's the missing piece in Sateri's development at this point (he was 2.83 and 0.896 in 9 last season). As soon as he figures out the playoff in Finland, the Sharks will bring him over. May be next summer, but even if they wait another year I wouldn't be worried. And if they decide to wait a year beyond that I would only be slightly worried. If he's not in North America to start 2013-2014, then I will be worried ...

September 03, 2010
Votes: +0

Brayden said:

ether
... Great job, but I'm a bit surprised that Harri Sateri wasn't mentioned in this article. He was signed and I thought as it stood that he'd come over to North America this year but I wonder if this changes that at all? He's considered to a be a pretty strong prospect as well as far as I know.
September 03, 2010
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

fzusher
... But I should say that other than that minor point, great, useful analysis - even to those of us who only own Sateri among the Sharks' goalies ... smilies/grin.gif

September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

fzusher
... Oh, and just to add your beloved Avs to the stats smilies/smiley.gif

drafted 11 1995-2006, of which 4 played more than 195 NHL games, but none really panned out as a starter - Brent Johnson, Marc Dennis, David Aebischer and Petr Budaj.
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

fzusher
just to be a party pooper ... I agree that the Sharks are one of the better goalie developers out there, but lines like "Has there been a prospect in the Sharks’ system in the last decade that hasn’t developed into a quality NHL goalie? Exactly." are asking for it LOL ... cause in fact, in between the 1995 draft (Kipper and Tosk) and the 2006 draft, only two of the 11 goalies they drafted - Greiss and Stalock - still have a chance of panning out. The others? well:

Taylor Dakers (DNP 09-10);

Jason Churchill (last seen trying out with the ECHL's Toledo in Sept 2006 ... and involved with something called the Nova Scotia Goaltender Academy);

Derek MacIntyre (currently the starter for the Central Hockey League's Dayton Gems)

Brian Mahoney-Wilson (entering senior season with Lake Superior of the NCAA, not sure if Sharks still own his rights; his issue was size - 5'10''/190)

Patrick Ehelechner (finally became starter for his German league side last year)

Dmitri Patzold (another German league starter)

Nolan Schaefer (career AHLer who tried his luck in Russia last year but will play in Providence this year)

Terry Friesen (8 years in the ECHL, WCHL, SPHL, and UHL)

Michel Larocque (managed 3 games with the Hawks in 00-01, then disappeared)

Mind you, 2 out of 11 (or 4 out of 13 if you add 1995 and Kipper/Tosk) is not as bad a record as it seems. To compare how some other teams did with the goalies they drafted in the 1995-2006 drafts:

Nashville (first drafted 199smilies/cool.gif drafted 11, hit on Rinne and possibly Dekanich, and missed on 9.
Detroit drafted 10 and only hit on Howard
The Habs actually have a great batting average of 5 (Vokoun, Theo, Garon, Halak, Price) legitimate NHLers out of 10 tries
Buffalo 2-3 out of 10 (Miller, Biron, Enroth)

So 2-4 in 13 is a good batting average, but lets not overestimate ...
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Steffen said:

Steffen
1A/1B - bane of poolies? Thank you Mr Goldman for another excellent read. I don't care how accurate your stat projections (or Paul's) might be -- I usually just try to stay away from 2-headed goalies in the first place.

In most pools, knowing team goalie dynamics can make the difference between a well-timed FA pickup and envying the one your opponent just made. Your articles help a great deal.

Two-headed goalie situations are tough for most poolies to endure, especially in H2H. But I'd happily roster either Niittymaki or Niemi as my 2nd or 3rd G in a roto or points league. Elliott or Leclaire, not so much. (I'd take Vokoun or Markstrom though...)

But none of the above without a stronger G1.

San Jose will win some games again this year, and I see the split favouring Niemi at about 42 GP to Niittymaki's 35 (leaving 5 GP by Stalock or Greiss?).

Nice piece, Mr Goldman.
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

mike hess said:

SharkMeat
comments Paul...your missing that with Nittymaki there are two to take the load and share...doen't have to be a win and lose can be a win and win because they share I think that is part of the message in the article as well...
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

paul faure said:

paul4
... Goldman

Thats exactly what Ottawa did that terrible year. Juggled lines trying to split up that offense as much as possible. Everybody got a shot at the top line, and top line players all got stints on the 2nd and 3rd line (hence one of the reasons Heatley got so pissed).
It was a real mess.
The question is... did either of those line shuffles stick?

IF SJ makes a move for a top 4 D, that would push players back into their proper spots and help a lot. Similar to last years D which would be fine.
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

paul faure said:

paul4
... Granted, healthy competition never hurt. And a contract year for Niemi helps too.

But to talk of development of a goalie from "raw-skilled" using "time and money", requires just that... time and money. Not a 1 year deal in a win and your in environment.
Your argument would hold true if it was a 3 or 4 year deal.

When attempting to project future stats, its important to try to base those figures on SOME kind of history. I bring in Nabokov because he has been ridiculously consistent over his stay with SJ. I also brought up the Chicago D as a comparable to the SJ D.

There are two intangibles which stats don't account for:
1) upside (growth and maturity) / downslide (age)
2) chemistry (clicking with others on the team or team morale)

So anything COULD happen... but I look at it like this:
SJ D < CHI D
Niittymaki < Niemi < Nabokov
< 1 month for Wayne Thomas to develop Niemi before getting throw into the shark pool.
All that spells disaster.
Now from what I understand, Niemi is a persistent fighter and so will probably get better as the season moves on. That bodes well for the 2011-12 season... wherever he may be playing.

My take is that Niemi will be the starter, 60 GP, 30 wins, 2.75 GAA, and .910%.
Niittymaki is the backup, 20 GP, 10 wins, 2.95 GAA, .905%
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

bball said:

bballplyr321
... Mr. Goldman

Way to make me regret trading away Niemi for a draft pick that will net me, at best, a guy like Vanek who I am now preying has potential but had an off year. But you certainly sold me on this move. But the question that I really don't think has really been answered is, was the goalie situation in San Jose the problem in the playoffs? It seems to me that overall, Nabby did not play all that poorly the last couple of years but the team around him melted and forgot how to score or left him out to dry. I know you are not huge on actual statistics and I watched most of their games but I only felt like a couple of those losses could legitimately be put on him.

Mr. Faure

How is this anything like the Senators of a couple of years ago? I will give you that they have a terrific top line but I refuse to concede that they have no depth. On the contrary, their depth is almost comical. There was a debate through the first two rounds of last years playoffs as to which of the top two lines was in fact the top line. Through in a young line of Colture, Mitchell and McGinn, all of whom spent time on the "top line" with Joe Thornton at some point in time, and you have to be pretty excited if you are a fan of offense. I would even go so far as to say that when Mitchell played with Thornton, he made Thornton a better player because Thornton had to skate faster to keep up with him.

I will submit that the defense is not going to win any major awards this season but I highly doubt that the team that they have now is going to be the team that they enter the post season with. Had they signed Mitchell rather then the Kings, they would have had one of the better defensive corps in the Pacific division. That being said, they are one defense-men away from having a very solid top 4 and with cap room and a trade chip in Greiss and Clowe, I think that they will be just fine in the long run.
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

mike hess said:

SharkMeat
awesome!!!! Great job...if I had not read it first, I would be arguing that Neimi wins the most starts..your thought process is spot on and the Sharts are in a great positon to take advantage...nice work...
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... Paul,

The reason you "can't see it" is because you are looking only at statistics. Did you pay attention to anything I wrote about Wayne Thomas and his ability to develop goalies? Niemi is going to be better than he was last season. Niittymaki is going to be better than he was last season. They are both highly motivated goalies that QUIETLY get the job done.

Why does their relation to Nabokov's abilities in years past have anything to do with their projected stats for this season??? Nabokov won 40 games with his eyes closed. He was pretty complacent and was never challenged to play any better or put forth more effort than usual.

Niittymaki and Niemi playing off each other is a smart move for one year. Someone will break out of their "statistical mold" and step up. And if you really think Niittymaki has been "nothing but average" his whole career then you really haven't been paying attention to his career.
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

paul faure said:

paul4
... I still can't see it. Niittymaki has been nothing but average his whole career.
Niemi is a better option, but the SJ D is nowhere near as good as Chicago!
What good is it to talk about slow development of a finish goalie if you only sign him to a 1 year deal?
The projected stats above are ridiculous:
Niittymaki: 2.25 GAA with a .915%
Niemi: 2.30 GAA with a .910%
Neither goalie is as good as Nabokov, so why are the numbers better or comparable to Nabokov? Despite a retired Blake and departed Malhotra.
This team is the 2007–08 Senators. Wicked first line, with very little depth. Average defense, and questionable goaltending.
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0

sentium said:

Dakkster
... You're the man, Justin. Solid gold!

Wow, I just realized what a horrible pun that was. I really really really didn't plan that! Sorry smilies/smiley.gif Point still stands though. You're awesome!
September 02, 2010
Votes: +0
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