The Dallas Stars have signed Antti Niemi, the soon to be free-agent goaltender whose rights were acquired from the San Jose Sharks over the weekend to a 3-year deal worth $13.5 million ($4.5 million AAV). Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was first with the news.
DAL signs Niemi three years, $4.5M AAV.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 29, 2015
Niemi, 31 years old, was 31-23-7 in 61 games for the San Jose Sharks last season, with a .914 save percentage and 2.59 goals against average. He is 190-100-40 over 338 career NHL games with a .916 save percentage and 2.39 goals against average. He was a Vezina Trophy Finalist in 2013.
Niemi also has something no other top unrestricted free agent goaltender has this year: he’s won a Stanley Cup as a starting goalie. While he wasn’t spectacular in 2010, he was solid enough to pick up the 16 wins needed for the Chicago Blackhawks to win their first of three Stanley Cup championships in the last six years. That immediately puts him at the top of this year’s UFA goalie crop.
However, since his incredible 2012-13 season in San Jose, which earned him a Vezina nomination, Niemi has seen his play slip, and the Sharks were ready to head in a new direction dealing his rights to the Stars for a seventh round pick, 193rd overall in this weekends draft. Niemi has been a workhorse in his time in Dallas, but it appears that he will be splitting the net with Kari Lehtonen in Dallas, unless another deal is made.
*written with Files from Ken Hill, Senior Editor, Last word on sports hockey.
MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 21: Antti Niemi #31 of the San Jose Sharks skates during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on March 21, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Canadiens defeated the Sharks 2-0. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)