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2010 NHL Free Agency: Sharks Sign G Antero Niitymaki To Two-Year Deal

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And just like that, the Sharks have slammed the door on the Evgeni Nabokov era. NHL free agency kicked off today and the Sharks looked to take care of a major need early on by signing former Lightning and Flyer goalie Antero Niittymaki to a 2-year deal worth $4 million. Niittymaki was 21-18-5 last season with a 2.87 goals against average last season. For comparison's sake, Nabokov was 44-16-10 with a 2.43 gaa.

Fear the Fin had the following to say about the Sharks:

Inconsistency has been a hallmark of Niittymaki's career, displaying periods of utter brilliance followed by stretches where he has trouble stopping the puck. He's not the bonafide starter that Evgeni Nabokov was for San Jose, and will likely compete year round for the starting role with Thomas Greiss.

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In terms of reaction to the signing, Niittymaki is far from the least desirable goaltender on the market, but was not highlighted by Fear The Fin as a player who was in the upper echelon of unrestricted free agent netminders. The monetary compensation given to him does allow the Sharks to pursue a big ticket defenseman, which should now be a big priority for San Jose General Manager Doug Wilson.

It sounds like Niittymaki will get some competition for playing time from Thomas Greiss and minor-leaguer Alex Stalock, but I'd imagine Niittymaki will be the main guy for now. Not that Sharks fans wouldn't mind seeing Greiss or Stalock stepping up and forcing the issue...