Antti Niemi (ice hockey)

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This article is about the ice hockey goaltender. For the ice hockey defenseman, see Antti-Jussi Niemi.
Antti Niemi
Antti-Niemi-Sharks-2011.jpg
Niemi warms up before a game in 2010
Born (1983-08-29) August 29, 1983 (age 31)
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
Dallas Stars
Lahti Pelicans
Chicago Blackhawks
San Jose Sharks
National team  Finland
NHL Draft Undrafted
Playing career 2005–present

Antti Niemi (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈɑntːi ˈniemi]; born August 29, 1983) is a Finnish professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Dallas Stars of 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 signed a contract to play for Pelicans in the SM-liiga in Finland during the 2012–13 NHL lockout. Niemi left the Blackhawks and played with the San Jose Sharks from 2011 to 2014. The Sharks traded his negotiation rights to the Dallas Stars on June 27, 2015, who signed him to three-year deal on June 29.

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.[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 February 27, 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 March 1, 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 October 2, 2009. Niemi started the second game, held on October 3.[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 April 22, 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 May 16, 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 June 9, 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 August 2 due to salary cap restraints and signed veteran goaltender Marty Turco from the Dallas Stars for $1.3 million.

San Jose Sharks[edit]

On September 2, 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.[6] On March 1, 2011, Niemi signed a four-year contract extension with San Jose worth $15.2 million.[6] His nickname with the Sharks is "Nemo."[7]

In October 2012, Niemi signed a one-month contract with Pelicans in Finland during the 2012–13 NHL lockout.[8] 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.[9] On May 8, 2013, Niemi was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, but ultimately lost out to Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets.[10]

Dallas Stars[edit]

On June 27, 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 NHL Entry Draft.[11] The Stars signed Niemi, forming a partnership with fellow Finnish starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, on a three-year deal worth $13.5 million on June 29.[12]

International play[edit]

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

Niemi won a Bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics, dressing for four of Finland's six games but he did not see any ice time.[13]

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 Pelicans SM-l 40 12 17 8 2263 103 3 2.73 .916
2006–07 Pelicans SM-l 48 18 21 7 2780 119 3 2.57 .918 6 2 4 370 9 1 1.46 .951
2007–08 Pelicans SM-l 49 26 14 6 2791 109 4 2.35 .926 6 2 4 328 21 0 3.83 .883
2008–09 Rockford IceHogs AHL 38 18 14 3 2095 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 2190 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 3524 140 6 2.38 .920 18 8 9 1044 56 0 3.22 .896
2011–12 San Jose Sharks NHL 68 34 22 9 3936 159 6 2.42 .915 5 1 4 318 13 0 2.45 .914
2012–13 San Jose Sharks NHL 43 24 12 6 2581 93 4 2.16 .924 11 7 4 673 21 0 1.87 .930
2013–14 San Jose Sharks NHL 64 39 17 7 3740 149 4 2.39 .913 6 3 3 305 19 0 3.74 .884
2014–15 San Jose Sharks NHL 61 31 23 7 3587 155 5 2.59 .914
Liiga totals 137 56 52 21 7834 331 10 2.55 .899 12 4 8 698 30 1 2.50 .917
NHL totals 338 190 100 40 19,700 786 32 2.39 .916 62 35 26 3662 167 2 2.74 .907

Awards and achievements[edit]

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. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "In front of home crowd, goalie Niemi gives Blackhawks shutout". Associated Press. 2008-10-03. Archived from the original on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  4. ^ "Antti Niemi posts Chicago Blackhawks' first playoff shutout since 1996". Chicago Tribune. 2010-04-18. Archived from the original on 22 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-20. 
  5. ^ "Blackhawks take 2-0 series lead in 2010 Cup Final". wikinews.org. 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  6. ^ a b c "Sharks Add Niemi". San Jose Sharks. 2 September 2010. 
  7. ^ "Niemi, Sharks blank Coyotes". WPTZ. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013. San Jose players call goaltender Antti Niemi "Nemo," and it is not hard to find him. 
  8. ^ Kurz, Kevin. "Niemi to Finland; Stuart's no-trade clause". csnbayarea.com. October 5, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  9. ^ "2012-13 Season Infographic - 6/25/2013". San Jose Sharks. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Sergei Bobrovsky claims Vezina Trophy". National Hockey League. 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  11. ^ "Sharks trade rights to Niemi to Stars for draft pick". CBS Sports. 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-06-27. 
  12. ^ Leahy, Sean (2015-06-29). "Stars ink Antti Niemi to three-year, $13.5 million deal". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2015-06-29. 
  13. ^ "Finland team statistics at 2014 Winter Olympics" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 

External links[edit]