NHL Trade Rumors: Could Antti Niemi Be Dealt To Columbus For Rick Nash?

Trade speculation is already brewing in San Jose.

The San Jose Sharks appear to be a team ready to shake up their roster a bit. Following an early exit in the 2012 NHL Playoffs, there have already been a few whispers to make their way around the club. Perhaps the most surprising and intriguing rumor thus far: could goaltender Antti Niemi be on the move in the coming months?

CSN Bay Area has the latest update on Niemi. Could the Columbus Blue Jackets be a fit?

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson said:

"We need a different look in goal. We need better play from that position. I told Steve in our exit interviews (earlier this month) that we're going to have a different look at that position next year, but that right now, nobody can predict what form that's going to take."

And as for why the Sharks and Blue Jackets may match up for a trade:

Could Niemi be a potential trade target for Howson?

It's an interesting question to ponder this offseason, as Niemi has three years remaining on a contract that carries a manageable $3.8 million cap hit. Furthermore, the Sharks are likely to revisit the Rick Nash discussion, after they were unable to land the Blue Jackets' scorer in February. It's pure speculation here, but Niemi could potentially be offered up in order for the Sharks to make that trade happen.

This is just speculation from Kevin Kurz, but the possible deal does make sense. The Sharks do not have a ton of young talent waiting in the wings, but they do potentially have a plethora of goalies to help replace Niemi should he be moved. It's never easy to let go of a proven commodity in goal in the NHL, but San Jose may just have enough within their organization to withstand the hit. And if a guy like Rick Nash is available this summer, you would have to think the Sharks would strongly consider making an offer.

Certainly something to watch for in the coming months.

For more on the Sharks and potential trade rumors, check out Fear The Fin.

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