What San Jose's Signing of Antti Niemi Means To the Western Conference
It's hard not to say that this deal will somehow affect the Blackhawks now that they have a very good chance of competing against Niemi, given that he wins the No. 1 spot against Antero Niittymaki.
San Jose is, no doubt, trying to bolster its roster to make a deep run into the playoffs that always seem to just barely escape from its grasp. Very few teams look as good as the Sharks during the regular season. However, once postseason starts, they become an underachieving mess.
So will Niemi be that piece that puts San Jose on track to beat other playoff favorites, such as Detroit and Chicago?
I wouldn't get too excited.
It's hard to have total confidence in this team when, for a couple of years now, it's been the same story. However, last year was an improvement compared to the other few years before, so it would also be a mistake to totally count San Jose out.
If Antti Niemi is as good as he and his agent thinks he is, then he could have a huge impact on this team. San Jose is gambling on him, but with the way he played in the playoffs last season, there is good reason to suspect that Niemi will only get better.
On the other hand, while Niemi did play well in the postseason, he wasn't totally spectacular. Playing on a team with a rock solid defense and a potent offense definitely helped, and it's questionable whether Niemi can play without the stellar defense of Chicago.
It's really a sink or swim deal for the Sharks, and there's always the chance that Niemi might not even play if he loses the battle for the number one spot to Niittymaki.
So, as of right now, I'd be skeptical about the affect Niemi will have against the Western Conference and teams like Detroit and Chicago.
It's a move that could benefit the Sharks a lot. There's just no way of knowing this early. We'll have to wait till hockey season begins.
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