Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Antti Niemi was benched in the playoffs.
Antti Niemi was popular with his teammates and consistently played well enough for his team to win.
Niemi finished with a 39-17-7 record to go with a 2.39 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Again, these are not All-Star numbers, but on an explosive team like the Sharks, it's more than enough to win a lot of hockey games.
Niemi carried the workload, appearing in 64 games, but he slumped a bit late in the season and was yanked in Games 4 and 5 of the playoffs and benched for Game 6. That has to worry some observers.
At 30, Niemi is in his prime. He's a goalie who is good enough to win a Stanley Cup, but he probably won't steal a lot of games for his team when they aren't playing well.
Backup Alex Stalock put up outstanding numbers in 24 regular-season appearances. He finished with a 1.87 GAA and a .932 save percentage. Stalock's final record was 12-5-2.
The St. Paul, Minn., native will be 27 next season and should be entering his prime. If he is ever going to step up and be a starter in this league, the time is now. Stalock has shown flashes but still has to prove he can perform at a consistently high level over 50-plus games.
The Sharks have two very good goalies, but neither of them would be considered among the truly elite netminders in the league.