Monday, May 05, 2008

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
I've been hearing about Niemi the past few weeks, as the Finnish goaltending factory continues to churn out top prospects.

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."



At 3:55 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Kevin said...

Hunh. Same name as a goalkeeper for Fulham in the English Premiership.

At 4:50 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Sean said...

Kevin, I thought the same thing, thinking this was a prank.

At 4:53 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

No, no. Two goalies, different sports, same names.

I'm not a soccer guy, but I saw all the goalkeeper pictures on an image search for this fellow the Blackhawks signed.

At 5:17 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger I Have Kasparaitis said...

This is an interesting snag ... maybe they can bulk up their team with people with talent and make a run next season. I'm never sure about their goal-tending but this guy seems alright. With Kane and Toews maturing on the ice (moreseo than they already are) and maybe their off-season will bring more talent there, the goalie won't need to make as many saves. I think they might have potential to make it into playoffs.

At 8:00 p.m., May 05, 2008, Blogger Jonathan said...

No word on whether he got ice time guarantees, or whether Vancouver would have been able to sign him had they not fired Nonis?


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