The San Jose Sharks' nine-game road trip has taken a turn for the worst with the loss to the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night, and it brings up a strong argument that maybe trading goalie Antti Niemi would benefit this team.
San Jose is stocked with goalies, from Alex Stalock to Tyson Sexsmith. They even have been forced to all but exclude Antero Niittymaki from the ice this season thanks to great play from backup Thomas Greiss in relief of Niemi.
It is for that reason that goalies are expendable in San Jose. The future of this franchise could have a number of net-minders between the pipes in the next few years and they do not include Niemi.
So why not trade him?
Niemi has some good trade value, and the Sharks could package him with either Torrey Mitchell or Jason Demers and get a really good player in return, if GM Doug Wilson chooses to go that route.
Settling with Greiss in net for the remainder of the season would not be half bad anyways, as any goalie can get hot in the playoffs. Why not Greiss?
Both have about the same winning percentage and save percentage this season, and it seems we may be seeing a whole lot more of Greiss during these last few months of the season.
The truth is trading Niemi has less than a possibility of happening, as Niemi is who historically shoulders the load when things go awry for this team. It happens to be that the rest of the team is currently shouldering the load for Niemi during an extremely tough stretch of games for him. He has let up 17 goals in his last five games played.
Greiss is sure to see more time in net for the remainder of this season thanks to this tough stretch of games. But make no doubt about it, Niemi will be between the pipes in the first round of the playoffs—whatever seed the Sharks end up drawing.
I would not put it past Wilson, though. If the Blue Jackets want Niemi packaged among others in a deal for Rick Nash, there would be a tough call on the end of Wilson and the Sharks. Columbus could use a definitive goaltender and Niemi fits that mold.
Judging by how the Sharks' lengthy road trip has gone and the position they are in the Pacific Division, we can expect some rather large changes near the trade deadline. Whether those changes include restructuring the entire first and second lines is unknown, but no trades or acquisitions will surprise many with the way San Jose has played as of late.
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