Antti Niemi Helps Improve Stars Goaltending

Antti Niemi is the new protector for the Stars. But is he really our first choice?
Photo Courtesy: Luca Volpi

By Jared Macduff

On the night of the 2015 NHL Draft, the Stars made a trade. They traded the 193rd pick to the San Jose Sharks for goalie Antti Niemi. That was HUGE. Niemi is what the Stars need. Kari has been good, but goalies need a night off every so often. Kari’s backup, Jhonas Enroth, was an ok backup, but not what the Stars need in their backup goalie. Enroth did not play as well as expected.

On June 29, Antti Neimi signed a three-year, $13.53 million with the Dallas Stars. Niemi will earn $4.5 million a year. What the Stars get in Niemi is a goalie that knows how to win and has the capability to become the Stars starting goalie once Kari’s contract expires. Kari is signed through the 2017-18 season and has posted a 148-90-38 record as the starter.

When the Stars had Tim Thomas as the backup goalie to Kari, Kari was playing at a high level and at a level that we have never seen played before. That excited Stars fans. When Thomas retired, the Stars were left searching for a capable backup. First, it was Anders Lindback. Lindback played less than stellar and the Stars suffered as a result. Now with Kari and Antti in net, the Stars are set on goalies. The Stars also have $10.4 million in the net with Kari making $5.9 million a year on his contract. That’s more than any NHL team is going to spend on goalies.

In his career with San Jose and Chicago, Niemi has posted a 190-100-40 regular season record with a 2.39 goals against average, a .916 save percentage and 32 shutouts. He finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting during the 2012-13 season when he posted a 24-12-6 record with a .924 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average.  In the five times he appeared in the postseason, he has a 35-26 record with a .907 save percentage and a 2.74 goals against average. He won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010 and won all 16 games and returned to the Western Conference Finals with San Jose in 2011.

Will this mean that Niemi will be the starting goalie? We don’t know. But what we do know is that it will be a great competition to see who will be the starting goalie for the Stars in the upcoming season.

Also worth noting is that even with the signing of Niemi, the Stars are still $15-$20 million under the cap.