Antti Niemi (ice hockey)

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Antti Niemi
Anti Niemi 4 2017-10-04.jpg
Niemi with the Penguins in 2017
Born (1983-08-29) 29 August 1983 (age 34)
Vantaa, Finland
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 210 lb (95 kg; 15 st 0 lb)
Position Goaltender
Catches Left
NHL team
Former teams
Montreal Canadiens
Lahti Pelicans
Chicago Blackhawks
San Jose Sharks
Dallas Stars
Pittsburgh Penguins
Florida Panthers
National team  Finland
NHL Draft Undrafted
Playing career 2005–present

Antti Niemi (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈɑntːi ˈniemi]; born 29 August 1983) is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender who is currently playing for the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League (NHL). During the 2009–10 season as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, he became the first Finnish goaltender to win the Stanley Cup. Niemi has also played for the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers.

Playing career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Niemi played junior-level hockey for Kiekko-Vantaa from 1998 until 2005, where he also worked part-time as a Zamboni driver and later had his number retired.[1] He turned pro with the Pelicans of the Finnish SM-liiga in 2005, playing three seasons with the team. In November 2007, Niemi debuted for the Finnish national team.[2] He then signed with the Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Assigned to Chicago's minor league affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, Niemi spent the majority of the 2008–09 season in the American Hockey League (AHL), alternating starts with Corey Crawford. In February 2009, he was called up to the Blackhawks as an injury replacement. He made his NHL debut on 27 February, playing one period in a 5–4 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Niemi recorded his first NHL start and win several days later on 1 March, a 4–2 victory versus the Los Angeles Kings.

Stanley Cup season with Chicago[edit]

The following season, Niemi made the Blackhawks lineup out of training camp. The Blackhawks began their season with a back-to-back season opening series against the Florida Panthers, held in Niemi's native Finland in the city of Helsinki. The first game of the season opener was held 2 October 2009. Niemi started the second game, held on 3 October.[3] In that game, Niemi stopped all 23 shots he faced against the Panthers to earn his first NHL shutout.

Compiling a very respectable record of 26–7–4 during the regular season, Niemi was named the Blackhawks' starting goaltender for the playoffs near the end of the 2009–10 NHL regular season and prior to the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, replacing Cristobal Huet. During game two of the opening series, Niemi recorded a shutout victory against the Nashville Predators at United Center, making him the first Blackhawks goaltender since Ed Belfour in 1996 to record a post-season shutout.[4]

Niemi with the Blackhawks in 2010

On 22 April 2010, Niemi stopped 33 shots to record his second shutout of the post-season, making him the first Chicago goaltender since Tony Esposito in 1974 to record two shutouts in one playoff series. On 16 May 2010, Niemi made 44 saves in a 2–1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. Chicago ended up sweeping the series against San Jose in four games.

In only his second Stanley Cup Finals game, Niemi made 32 saves, earning the Player of the Game honors from the NHL.[5] On 9 June 2010, Niemi led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship with a 4–3 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Niemi was the third Finnish goaltender to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals and the first ever to win the Cup.

Niemi filed for arbitration during the off-season, and was eventually awarded $2.75 million. Chicago officially walked away from the deal on 2 August due to salary cap restraints and signed veteran goaltender Marty Turco from the Dallas Stars for $1.3 million.

San Jose Sharks[edit]

Niemi in 2011 during his tenure with San Jose

On 2 September 2010, Niemi officially signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the San Jose Sharks.[6] He made 30 saves in his first regular season victory with the Sharks, a 3–2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. After a poor start to the season, Niemi was platooned with fellow Finnish netminder Antero Niittymäki, but strong play in the month of February, which saw him go 14–2–1 with a 1.91 goals against average (GAA) and .924 save percentage, cemented him as the Sharks' starting goaltender.[7] On 1 March 2011, Niemi signed a four-year contract extension with San Jose worth $15.2 million.[7] His nickname with the Sharks was "Nemo."[8]

In October 2012, Niemi signed a one-month contract with Pelicans in Finland during the 2012–13 NHL lockout.[9] In the 2012–13 season, Niemi led the Sharks in GAA with 2.16, while leading the NHL in minutes played with 2,581, tied for the League lead with 24 wins in 43 starts, along with finishing third in the NHL with 1,127 saves.[10] On 8 May 2013, Niemi was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, but ultimately lost out to Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets.[11] With his prowess in the shootout throughout the season The Hockey News awarded Niemi the Gilles Villemure Award as the Best Shootout Goalie.

Dallas Stars[edit]

On 27 June 2015, the second day of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Niemi's rights were traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for the 193rd pick in the 2015 draft.[12] The Stars signed Niemi, forming a partnership with fellow Finnish starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, on a three-year deal worth $13.5 million on 29 June.[13] On 8 October 2015, Niemi started the first game of the season for the Dallas Stars instead of longtime starter Lehtonen, posting a 37 save shutout and picking up two assists in the 3–0 Dallas Stars victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Niemi and Lehtonen would alternate regularly for the entire season.[14] In the playoffs, Lehtonen was given the first chance as the starting goaltender before Niemi started a few games as well.

Niemi would continue to alternate with Lehtonen to begin his second season with the Stars in the 2016–17 season. However, Niemi struggled mightily and was relegated to the backup role. Despite winning 12 games, Niemi placed last in the league amongst recorded goaltenders in goals against average and second to last in save percentage. With the Stars missing the post-season and with the acquisition of goaltender Ben Bishop, Niemi was placed on waivers to be bought out from the remaining year of his contract on 26 June 2017.[15]

Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens[edit]

On 1 July 2017, Niemi signed a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins worth $700,000 for the 2017–18 season.[16] Niemi started three games as the Penguins' backup goaltender, during which he allowed 16 goals and recorded a 7.5 goals against average. He was placed on waivers on 23 October.[17]

On 24 October, Niemi was claimed off waivers by the Florida Panthers after being waived the previous day.[18][19] After featuring in just two games with the Panthers, and with the return to health of Roberto Luongo he was placed on waivers once again on November 13.[20]

On 14 November, Niemi was claimed off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.[21]

International play[edit]

Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Representing  Finland
Winter Olympics
Bronze medal – third place 2014 Sochi

Niemi won a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He dressed as the backup goaltender for four of Finland's six games, but he did not see any ice time.[22]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP W L T/OT MIN GA SO GAA SV% GP W L MIN GA SO GAA SV%
2005–06 Lahti Pelicans SM-l 40 12 17 8 2,263 103 3 2.73 .916
2006–07 Lahti Pelicans SM-l 48 18 21 7 2,780 119 3 2.57 .918 6 2 4 370 9 1 1.46 .951
2007–08 Lahti Pelicans SM-l 49 26 14 6 2,791 109 4 2.35 .926 6 2 4 328 21 0 3.83 .883
2008–09 Rockford IceHogs AHL 38 18 14 3 2,095 85 2 2.43 .910 2 0 2 115 7 0 3.65 .897
2008–09 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 3 1 1 1 141 8 0 3.40 .864
2009–10 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 39 26 7 4 2,190 82 7 2.25 .912 22 16 6 1,322 58 2 2.63 .910
2010–11 San Jose Sharks NHL 60 35 18 6 3,524 140 6 2.38 .920 18 8 9 1,044 56 0 3.22 .896
2011–12 San Jose Sharks NHL 68 34 22 9 3,936 159 6 2.42 .915 5 1 4 318 13 0 2.45 .914
2012–13 San Jose Sharks NHL 43 24 12 6 2,581 93 4 2.16 .924 11 7 4 673 21 0 1.87 .930
2013–14 San Jose Sharks NHL 64 39 17 7 3,740 149 4 2.39 .913 6 3 3 305 19 0 3.74 .884
2014–15 San Jose Sharks NHL 61 31 23 7 3,587 155 5 2.59 .914
2015–16 Dallas Stars NHL 48 25 13 7 2,655 118 3 2.67 .905 5 1 3 238 13 0 3.29 .865
2016–17 Dallas Stars NHL 37 12 12 4 1,729 95 0 3.30 .892
2017–18 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 3 0 3 0 129 16 0 7.50 .797
2017–18 Florida Panthers NHL 2 0 1 0 58 5 0 5.08 .853
Liiga totals 137 56 52 21 7834 331 10 2.55 .899 12 4 8 698 30 1 2.50 .917
NHL totals 428 227 129 51 24,270 1,020 35 2.52 .912 67 36 29 3,899 180 2 2.77 .905

Awards and honours[edit]

Award Year
NHL
Stanley Cup (Chicago Blackhawks) 2010

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fortunate phone call sparked Niemi's career". blackhawks.nhl.com. 28 May 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "Maalivahti Niemellä kelpo debyytti Leijonissa". MTV3 (in Finnish). 8 November 2007. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "In front of home crowd, goalie Niemi gives Blackhawks shutout". Associated Press. 3 October 2008. Archived from the original on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  4. ^ "Antti Niemi posts Chicago Blackhawks' first playoff shutout since 1996". Chicago Tribune. 18 April 2010. Archived from the original on 22 April 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  5. ^ "Blackhawks take 2–0 series lead in 2010 Cup Final". wikinews.org. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  6. ^ "Sharks Add Niemi". San Jose Sharks. 2 September 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Antti Niemi signs four-year contract extension". ESPN. 1 March 2011. 
  8. ^ "Niemi, Sharks blank Coyotes". WPTZ. 16 April 2013. Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. San Jose players call goaltender Antti Niemi "Nemo," and it is not hard to find him. 
  9. ^ Kurz, Kevin. "Niemi to Finland; Stuart's no-trade clause". csnbayarea.com. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  10. ^ "2012–13 Season Infographic – 6/25/2013". San Jose Sharks. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Sergei Bobrovsky claims Vezina Trophy". National Hockey League. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Sharks trade rights to Niemi to Stars for draft pick". CBS Sports. 27 June 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  13. ^ Leahy, Sean (29 June 2015). "Stars ink Antti Niemi to three-year, $13.5 million deal". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  14. ^ Pinchevsky, Tal (2016-04-11). "Frequent Victories Can Make Room for Two Goalies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  15. ^ "Stars place Niemi on waivers with plan to buy out contract". Dallas Stars. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-06-26. 
  16. ^ Mackey, Jason (2017-07-01). "Penguins add Hunwick, Niemi, as NHL free agency opens". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-07-01. 
  17. ^ "Antti Niemi waived after three tough starts with Penguins". Sportsnet. 2017-10-23. Retrieved 2017-10-24. 
  18. ^ "Florida Panthers Claim Goaltender Antti Niemi from Pittsburgh Penguins". NHL.com. October 24, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017. 
  19. ^ DeFranks, Matt (2017-10-24). "Panthers claim goalie Antti Niemi off waivers with Roberto Luongo still injured". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-10-24. 
  20. ^ "Panthers' Antti Niemi: Back on waivers". cbssports.com. November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Canadiens claim goaltender Antti Niemi off waivers". National Hockey League. November 14, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Finland team statistics at 2014 Winter Olympics" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 21 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 

External links[edit]