Last season Antti Niemi helped sweep the San Jose Sharks out of the conference finals on the Blackhawks way to hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup.
This upcoming season the Sharks are hoping to return the favor with a familiar face.
Fan favorite and former starting goalie Antti Niemi has signed a 1 year deal worth $2 million to mind the net for the underachieving San Jose Sharks.
An interesting twist to the signing besides the Hawks beating the Sharks is that for Chicago it became a choice between Niemi and defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson. Back during early July at the start of free agency San Jose had signed Hjalmarsson to a 4 year $14 million offer sheet. Chicago had a week to match and faced a tough choice, let the promising 23 year old defensemen leave or match and hope for the best with Niemi and the arbitrator's ruling.
They went with choice two however things did not go their way when it came down to the ruling. Niemi was awarded $2.75 million. If the Hawks matched they probably would have had to say goodbye to someone like Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland or Troy Brouwer. Instead of saying goodbye to another forward they decided to say no to Niemi and instead signed veteran netminder Marty Turco.
Turco will compete with Corey Crawford much in the same way Niemi competed against Huet last season but the key factor is that Crawford and Turco combined will make less then Niemi would have made if the Hawks decided to keep him. Unlike many of the departed Hawks, Niemi will return to the United Center this season. The Sharks will visit Chicago on December 30 and let's hope that the fans give Niemi a warm welcome, which he deserves, and that the Hawks send San Jose packing just like they did in May.
Wouldn't it be fun to see Hjalmarsson score on Niemi?