The Antero Niittymaki era in San Jose has come to an end. Er, kind of. I am not even sure there was an era, just a mediocre stint for the Sharks in which he started 22 games over two seasons. Mix that with a slew of injuries and a lost back-up role, and you should have a pretty disgruntled goaltender.
And that is exactly what they have.
One month ago, Niittymaki had some trade value. Maybe a team in the playoff hunt needed a pretty good back-up goalie, or a team out of the hunt needed a netminder for next season. Either way, Niittymaki was looking for a place to play, and that was not going to happen in San Jose.
Since then, the Sharks put him on waivers and still he went untouched by other teams, which means his trade value has taken a hit, to say the least.
He will need to be packaged with some hefty talent from San Jose if GM Doug Wilson wants to include him in any blockbuster deals before the trade deadline.
Here are five scenarios in which Niittymaki can find a new home, and the Sharks can get some much-needed talent for a playoff run.
Ruutu has been reportedly coveted by teams looking to improve their speed and offense heading into the playoffs.
For the Sharks to pull this off, it would take much more than just Niittymaki, as Carolina understands the Sharks' needs for both speed and more scoring on the top two lines on offense.
A package for Ruutu would have to include Niittymaki, as well as defenseman Jason Demers and/or Torrey Mitchell for this to work. Several teams are bidding for Ruutu's services, so there is no telling what the Hurricanes could be asking for in return.
The likelihood of the Dallas Stars trading one of their best players inside the division is not good, but the Stars are fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, and Morrow's season has been disappointing.
He has eight goals and 14 assists on the season.
However, his leadership is something to be coveted by the Sharks, who have been searching for such a player since the retirement of Rob Blake.
For Morrow, San Jose would have to overpay now and hope to be repaid later with a fresh start in a new city and a boost in the playoffs.
Joe Pavelski or Ryane Clowe would have to be the centerpiece for this deal to go through. The Sharks would also have to add in Niittymaki and either Justin Braun or Jason Demers.
The Sharks have been rumored to be interested in Kostitsyn since last offseason, as need at forward with some size is imperative on this team.
Kostitsyn has 12 goals and 11 assists on the season.
A deal for the Canadiens winger would have to include Torrey Mitchell, who has yet to fully pan-out in San Jose. Niittymaki could be thrown in for good measure, but the deal would surround the young talent of Mitchell and some draft picks.
The Sharks are rumored to be interested in left winger Ryan Smyth, as of late. The Anaheim-native has 16 goals and 20 assists on the season, and this would be a very significant move for Wilson. One that would require a good amount of talent headed to Edmonton in return.
As with most hefty deals the Sharks would make before the trade deadline, the trade would be centered around Joe Pavelski or Ryane Clowe. Pavelski would be the easiest to part with of the two, as Clowe provides leadership and bulk on the ice, something San Jose cannot afford to lose.
Wilson has already said that Clowe is far from ever being dealt, so a deal including Pavelski, Mitchell and Niittymaki could be in the realm of possibility if Wilson decides he wants to invest in Smyth's veteran talent.
Considering the type of chemistry Hemsky and Joe Thornton have on the ice, this deal is definitely possible.
Hemsky has four goals and 18 assists for the Oilers this season, but could be a nice fit on the Sharks' third line with the frantic Jamie McGinn and veteran Michal Handzus.
Of course, that leaves Mitchell as the odd man out, and he would be headed to Edmonton with Niittymaki, who could throw himself in their goalie mix. The transaction would possibly have to include some San Jose prospects, or even Jason Demers or Justin Braun, to make this happen.
Hemsky has reportedly not been getting bites from NHL teams, so this could be a really good fall-back move for the Sharks if larger moves fail to work out.
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