Antti Niemi has come a long way since he was first noticed in Europe. He began playing junior hockey for Kiekko-Vantaa in 1998, and during his time there (until 2005) Niemi also worked part time as a Zamboni driver. He turned pro in 2005 with the Pelicans in the Finnish league SM-liiga. As a 24-year-old, he compiled a 26-6-14 record, with a 2.35 GAA and .927 SV%. Scouts noticed his play and he went on to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks as an undrafted free agent in 2008.


After playing most of the 2008-2009 season with the Rockford Ice Hogs, Niemi was called up in February of 2008 as an injury replacement. Niemi made his NHL debut on February 27th, playing one period in an eventual 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.


After winning the Stanley Cup with Chicago, Niemi filed for arbitration and was awarded $2.75 million once his case was settled. Chicago was not interested in paying that kind of money to Niemi due to salary cap issues. Chicago attempted to fill the void and would then sign Marty Turco that off-season. On September 2nd of 2010, Niemi signed a one-year deal, worth $2 million with the San Jose Sharks. After impressing in his first season with San Jose, Niemi would sign a four-year contract extension worth $15.2 million.


Any time a team doesn’t live up to expectations, you always hear fans go after the coach, captain and goalie. How can you blame Niemi for the Sharks performance in 2011/2012? Niemi’s numbers were pretty solid across the board.



Games Played

Goals Against Average


Goals Against

Save Percentage










According to Frozen Pool’s Roto Ranker, Niemi ranked eleventh overall in head-to-head leagues.


  1. 1.Jonathan Quick, G, LA
  2. 2.Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
  3. 3.Mike Smith, G, PHO
  4. 4.Pekka Rinne, G, NSH
  5. 5.Jimmy Howard, G, DET
  6. 6.Miikka Kiprusoff, G, CGY
  7. 7.Brian Elliott, G, STL
  8. 8.Tim Thomas, G, BOS
  9. 9.Jaroslav Halak, G, STL
  10. 10.Kari Lehtonen, G, DAL
  11. 11.Antti Niemi, G, SJ

Niemi also played the fifth most games of any goalie in the NHL with 68. Pekka Rinne, along with Jonas Hiller led the league with 73 games played; Miikka Kiprusoff was third with 70, while Niemi tied with Ondrej Pavelec and Cam Ward.


Niemi’s issues are all about game-to-game consistency; here are a few examples of that.


October 17th vs. Anaheim: 3 GA on 22 shots against, .864 SV%

October 21st @ New Jersey: 3 GA on 19 shots against, .842 SV%

October 22nd @ Boston: 2 GA on 39 shots against, .949 SV%

October 25th @ Nashville: 1 GA on 20 shots against, .950 SV%

October 28th @ Detroit: 2 GA on 32 shots against, .938 SV%

October 31st @ New York Rangers: 5 GA on 31 shots against, .839 SV%

November 3rd vs. Pittsburgh: 2 GA on 6 shots against, .667 SV%

November 5th vs. Nashville: 4 GA on 35 shots against, .886 SV%

November 7th vs. Los Angeles: 2 GA on 31 shots against, .935 SV%

November 10th vs. Minnesota: 1 GA on 22 shots against, .955 SV%

November 17th vs. Detroit: 2 GA on 42 shots against, .952 SV%

November 19th @ DAL: 1 GA on 31 shots against, .968 SV%

November 23rd vs. Chicago: 0 GA on 34 shots against, .1000 SV%

December 10th @ Minnesota: 4 GA on 31 shots against,  .871 SV%


What I take away from these numbers is that Niemi’s overall play excuses some of those poor performances and when he gets on a roll, he’s definitely one of the tougher goalies to beat in the NHL.


Home: 21-9-3, 2.17 GAA, .922 SV%, 4 SHO


Away: 13-13-6, 2.69 GAA, .907 SV%, 2 SHO


He seems to struggle on the road as you can see by the splits listed above. Every player prefers to play at home, but Niemi is going to have to balance out his home and road performances to put up better overall numbers. Niemi definitely finished the season strong, despite the Sharks being eliminated in the first round by St. Louis.


Here are his stats in the playoffs: 1-4, 2.45 GAA, .914 SV%. If Niemi played better in game three (4 GA on 27 shots against), his numbers would be much more impressive. That game aside, Niemi’s save percentage in game one was .952, .906 in game two, .917 in game four and .923 in game five.


Something else to consider with Niemi is the improved play of Thomas Greiss, who definitely pushed Niemi at a few points in 2011-2012. Greiss finished with a 9-7 record in 19 games, along with a 2.30 GAA and .915 SV%. All of those numbers represented career bests for Greiss, as his career GAA stands at 2.50, save percentage at .911 and his previous career high win total was 7 (2009-2010).


After looking through all of these numbers, I feel confident Niemi will bounce back, even though he really wasn’t nearly as bad as people said he was in 2011-2012. You may want to handcuff him with Thomas Greiss just in case.


Mac can be found on the forums as dmvincent, and you can also follow him on twitter @MacVincent1.


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Comments (11)add comment

Mac Vincent said:

... The off-season acquisitions of Stuart and Burish might help, but this is a sharks team that only thinks about offense.

When I watch them play that's how I see it.
September 15, 2012
Votes: +0

Mac Vincent said:

... With regards to the team in front of him, I think they're incredibly overrated and have lots of issues.

There are only two players on that team willing to go down and actually block a shot, Douglas Murray and Vlasic.

Those are the only two that come to mind. I'm not convinced Niemi is a great goalie, but he's certainly capable of putting up pretty solid numbers.
September 15, 2012
Votes: +0

morvintini said:

I Agree with BBall Stats do not tell the whole story. Yes his numbers look somewhat respectable but look at the team he is playing on, he should have much better numbers. Also, as BBall said when you actually watch him he is terrible. He gives out monster rebounds and I wouldn't say he is the best positionally either. If he was on a lower ranked team, we would be putting him in the same place as Steve Mason.

Jason banks
Yes he is winner, but it helps to be a winner when you are always on a top team (Chris Osgood anyone?) I would not say he was the reason the Blackhawks won the cup, I would actually say it was in-spite of him they that they did (and with a big helping hand from michael leighton.

In roto leagues his up and down stats are ok, but in H2H you have NO idea what he will give you week to week.
September 15, 2012
Votes: +0

Jason_Banks said:

Split Missed in Artical A bit of an oversight but:

Fantasy Managers should be very aware, Niemi is a great buy low goalie... and sometimes better to let go in drafts...

His first half of a season is usually unimpressive, barely getting .900 SV%...

But in second halfs he clicks in and gets stronger as a season goes... without the numbers in front of me, his SV% rises into the .930ish area...

It would be good Mac if you show a break up 1st half and 2nd half and month to month....

Just more information people need to know on this player as it is the biggest story behind Niemi, that and he is 'Winner' he wins alot, everywhere he goes...
September 15, 2012
Votes: +0

bball said:

... looking at the stats, Niemi is not a bad player. Looking at his play, holy cow. There are few starting goalies in the league that I would rank lower then I would rank Niemi. You made a comment about when he is hot, he is tough to beat. I would agree that when he is hot he makes some unbelievable saves but he follows that up, within the same game, with giving up goals on plays that would be routine for even a rec league goalie. As a Sharks fan, when Niemi was signed, I cringed and he has done absolutely nothing to convince me that my lack of faith in him was unwarranted. And the fact that McLellan rides him through thick and thin regardless of the outcome by using the excuse that he needs to get into the flow by seeing consistent playing time absolutely infuriates many Sharks fans. The only reason this guy is relevant in fantasy hockey is because he is playing on a team that is going to get him an inflated wins total. If you own him, I would advise that you try and trade him now. But maybe I am a bit jaded
September 14, 2012
Votes: +0

spencergough said:

... Pengwin7 - nice point with regards to the referencing of standard fantasy providers. ESPN has Niemi at a similar #157 (21st goalie - Bryzgalov is even lower).
September 14, 2012
Votes: +0

spencergough said:

... Another boost for Niemi's numbers might be an improved PK unit in front of him. On one hand, the Sharks had the second worst PK% in the NHL last year, but on the other hand they actually led the league in fewest times Shorthanded. They were still in the bottom third of the league in terms of total PP goals against.
September 14, 2012
Votes: -1

arctic_rogue said:

... Great article Mac! Solid advice on the handcuffing with Greiss.
September 14, 2012
Votes: +0

Mac Vincent said:

... Thanks for the comments, I'm glad you guys enjoyed it.
September 14, 2012
Votes: +0

Pengwin7 said:

Pretty good Good collection of numbers.

A few considerations to improve the strength of these articles.

1. Since we are coming up on fantasy hockey, it is good to make a reference to the rank a player is currently listed on in Yahoo/ESPN/FanTrax/CBS. It can be helpful for us to know where he is being drafted/ranking and whether he might likely be underrated or overrated at that spot.

2. No need to go into playoff performances much. Small sample size where a player is just competing against one opponent. Not really relevant to full season stats.

3. It's a goalie, so make sure you look into any off-season changes. San Jose's big four defensemen were all plus guys last year (Boyle, Burns, Pickles, Murray) while their 5/6 guys were minuses (C.White,Demers,Braun). The off-season signing of Brad Stuart should really help San Jose's defense & positively impact Niemi's numbers.

Based on his Yahoo! rank (#161, 27th listed goalie!!!) and the Brad Stuart signing, I'm going to be jumping all over him in almost every pool.

Overall - pretty good write-up.
September 14, 2012
Votes: +0

bizzl said:

... Thanks for this! I'm a Niemi owner and was starting to believe that he's not as good as I had thought when I acquired him. This helped level me out.
September 14, 2012
Votes: +0
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