Flyers Sign Goalie, Niittymaki's Future Uncertain

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst IMarch 26, 2009

It seems as if Flyers goaltender Antero Niittymaki's future has just become even more clouded.

According to GM Paul Holmgren, Philadelphia has signed John Backlund, a  6'2", 198-pound free agent goaltender, to a one year contract. Per club policy, specific financial terms were not disclosed.

This very well could be the writing on the wall for Niittymaki; his time with the Flyers is likely ticking down.

Backlund would replace Niitty as the teams backup. Antero is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and the Flyers bringing back Mary Biron seems imminent.

“Johan is a player who we have watched over the last couple of years and we really like,” said Holmgren. “He will bring depth to our organization at the goaltender position.”

One may ponder the timing of this decision, but it could be just a roster move for depth at the goaltending position. Knowing the game and this Philly club, though, I'd say this was basically a sign of things to come for Niittymaki.

In 49 games with Timra of the Swedish Elite League this season, the 27-year-old has a 2.56 goals against average, a .907 save percentage, and four shutouts. He has spent the last three seasons with Timra (2006-07 through 2008-09) and overall boasts a 2.32 goals against average, .909 save percentage, and 16 shutouts in 145 games.

In five seasons in the Swedish Elite League with Timra and Leksands IF, Backlund has a career 2.54 goals against average, .908 save percentage, and 19 shutouts in 287 games.

Quote: Flyers