| Jamison out, Niemi
Several sources confirming deal with
The Sharks mundane offseason got a little spicier
on Wednesday. After team President Greg Jamison announced that he would be
stepping down from his post, a report surfaced that the Sharks were on the
verge of signing former Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi to a
one-year, $2 million contract.
The Jamison announcement comes at a
peculiar time, as the Sharks prepare to open the 20th pre-season training camp.
He has held the title of club President for all but 7 of those training camps,
assuming the role in 1996. Originally hired in 1993 as vice president of
business operations, Jamison has overseen a number of significant projects that
have distinguished the Sharks as one of the most successful business ventures
in the professional sports landscape.
Some of his accomplishments
include the securing of naming rights for San Jose Arena with Hewlett Packard,
the creation of the Sharks Foundation, and the formation of Silicon Valley
Sports & Entertainment, which oversees daily operation of HP Pavilion and
several sporting event ventures including a mixed martial arts series
(Strikeforce) and the SAP Open Tennis Tournament.
achievement was his organization of the ownership group that purchased the
Sharks from George Gund in 2001.
Through all of those accomplishments,
a Stanley Cup has eluded the executive, who has served as the voice of the
current ownership group for the last nine years. His hiring of Doug Wilson as
the teams General Manager had a trickle down affect in Wednesdays
report that San Jose was on the verge of signing Niemi.
You may recall
that it was Niemi who outplayed for Sharks netminder Evgeni Nabokov in last
Springs Western Conference Final series between the Sharks and
Blackhawks. The young Finnish goaltender would go on to win all 16 games
necessary for Chicago to win the Stanley Cup.
Kypreos broke the story of the impending signing via a Twitter post on
Niemis services became available after the
Blackhawk decided that an arbitration ruling which awarded the goaltender $2.75
million was too rich for their liking. That hand may have been forced by
another Wilson move earlier this off-season, when he inked Blackhawks
restricted free-agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to a four-year contract
offer. Chicago elected to match the Hjalmarsson offer, which tied up too much
salary cap space.
Did Wilson take advantage of Chicagos financial
dilemma? Perhaps, but if the Kypreos report is true, he now also has $4.5
million tied up in three goaltenders. Teams dont typically carry three
goaltenders on their regular roster, so who will be the odd man out?
If Niemis deal is only a one-year commitment, then the Sharks will find
themselves in a peculiar position next season if they cant re-sign him.
The sharks could send Thomas Greiss to Worcester, but that seems unlikely,
given that have a gaggle of strong prospects in Alex Stalock, Thomas Heemskirk
and Tyson Sexsmith.
Common sense says Wilson moves either Greiss or
Antero Nittymaki. Nittymaki will be harder to move given his $4 million
contract ($2 million each of the next two seasons), so it would appear the
Greiss is the logical loser in all of this. The question is, who will take him,
and what do the Sharks get in return.
Wilson still covets a top-four
defenseman, but he would have to give up more than just Greiss in order to land
that caliber of player. If the $2 million Niemi salary figure is accurate, that
also means that San Jose will have to fill two more roster spots with about
$1.1 million in cap space remaining. That would suggest that Wilson would need
to package another player to free up space for an incoming topfour
Torrey Mitchells $1.4 million might be
an attractive contract to take over for a team looking for some speed, along
with Greiss paltry $550,000 salary.
One other thing to consider
in all of this is Nittymakis mindset if Niemi is in fact signed. He came
to San Jose, thinking he had a legitimate shot as the Sharks number one
goaltender. That would be turned upside down. How will he react to all of this,
and how will it play out in terms of his performance on the ice?
interesting in all of this is the salary that Niemi is reportedly collecting.
If it is $2 million, then why didn't he just ink that deal with Chicago in the
first place? He mentioned in an interview last month that he didn't think he
would be playing for anyone but the Blackhawks after their Stanley Cup
Two months later, he's a Shark. Let's just hope he feels
slighted in some way by Chicago and has a score to settle. If the Sharks don't
plug their top-four defenseman hole, they're going to need Niemi to stand on
his head on a regular basis.
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