Antero Niittymaki: 8 Possible Destinations for the Sharks Netminder

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Antero Niittymaki: 8 Possible Destinations for the Sharks Netminder
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

At the All-Star Break, I named Antti Niemi as one of ten San Jose Sharks players who needed to step it up down the stretch. He started off his second half with a brilliant shutout against Columbus.

It was his second straight, and marked his first back-to-back shutouts in almost a year.

Antero Niittymaki's Sharks career was over immediately after his off-season surgery, or—at the very latest—after Thomas Greiss emerged as an elite back-up. Niemi's recent play simply puts an exclamation point at the end.

While the Sharks enjoyed having two reliable Fins last season (pun intended), it doesn't make sense to keep both around anymore. Niittymaki would be third on the depth chart, and barring an insanely bad injury bug, would likely never see the ice again in San Jose.

So, the Sharks put the 31-year-old on waivers.

While Niittymaki's contract ($2 million, final season) and injury problems make him a liability for the Sharks right now, his skill and track record make him a player worth pursuing for several teams around the league.

After a rough start to his career, Niittymaki has put up a .907 save percentage over his last four seasons while going 60-42-16. Perhaps the highlight of Niittymaki's career thus far occurred during his two most recent outings—relief appearances in last year's playoffs.

During round one, Antti Niemi spotted the Los Angeles Kings a 4-0 lead in game three. Niittymaki came in early in the second period, and shut the Kings offense down. Playing with confidence in front of him, San Jose won the game 6-5 in overtime. Two games later, Niemi got pulled midway through the first period after three soft goals, and Niittymaki pitched a shutout the rest of the way.

With that, Niittymaki showed the league that he is not only a quality goalie, but could be a huge part of a Stanley Cup run.

Here's a look at eight playoff contenders that should—or at least will—consider claiming the Finnish netminder.

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