Chicago signs top goaltending prospect
Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the Blackhawks have agreed to terms with Finnish goaltender Antti Niemi.
“Antti is one of the top European goaltenders”, said Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon. “We like his size, athleticism, ability and the depth that this gives us at this position. We’re thrilled to add a young talent like Niemi to our stable of prospects.”
Niemi, 24, 6’2”, 200 lbs. appearing in 49 games last season posting a record of 26-6-14 and a stellar 2.35 goals against average and a .927 save percentage for the Pelicans of the SM-Liiga, the Finnish Elite League.>> team release
Chicago will lose backup Patrick Lalime as an unrestricted free agent, so there's a hole behind Nikolai Khabibulin for the 24-year-old Finn to potentially fill.
If any readers in Finland can offer an assessment of Niemi, I'm all ears.
UPDATE I asked Finnish hockey writer Risto Pakarinen for a few words on Niemi: "Good goalie, had his breakthrough this season and played a few games with Team Finland. And played well, he was one of my top three candidates for goalie of the year, actually.
"Calm, big (like they all are these days), good positioning, a solid goalie all in all."