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Niemi Reportedly on the Block
Tuesday, Feb. 17
Ian McLaren of The Score passed along comments ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun made during an appearance on TSN 1290 in Winnipeg about the veteran goalie:
(The Sharks) continue to get younger. If you look at their lineup, it's the youngest it has been in a long time. And that will continue to the point where I was talking to a team today that says that they were told again by San Jose that Antti Niemi is on the table.
So here's a team that's in a playoff spot, albeit by a slim margin; but, because Niemi is a pending UFA, the Sharks are taking calls on him.
The Sharks are clearly in a tricky situation. Moving Niemi would likely have a negative impact on their chances of making the playoffs; however, letting him walk away at season's end without getting anything in return would hurt over the long haul.
A lot probably depends on how the team plays leading up to the March 2 deadline. It currently holds the second wild-card spot in the West, two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, which have two games in hand. The Minnesota Wild, the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche are still involved, too.
If the Sharks feel comfortable about their chances, they are more likely to take the risk of losing Niemi while aiming for a playoff run. If not, trading him makes sense, and Alex Stalock is a capable, albeit unspectacular to this point, backup option.
The report doesn't mention an asking price from San Jose. The Buffalo Sabres recently received goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick, which could become a second, for netminder Jhonas Enroth. His track record isn't on the level of Niemi, so the return should be a step or two above that.
That is, unless the Sharks ultimately decide to keep him.