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the jewelry is still out • United States • 35 Years Old • Male

According to Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer and HockeyBuzz blogger Tim Panaccio, the Philadelphia Flyers are expected to re-sign goaltender Antero Niittymaki this weekend.

Niity will serve as a back-up to incumbent Martin Biron, acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo for a 2nd round draft pick.

The MVP of the 2006 Olympics for the silver medal-winning Finnish team, Niittymaki's career in Philadelphia has been a tumultuous one.

Antero was drafted 168th overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, but stayed in Finland until the beginning of 2001, because of military obligations. His stock began to rise due to his stellar play for the Philadelphia Phantoms in the American Hockey League (AHL). Niity led the Phantoms to the Calder Cup in 2005, while earning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy for MVP in the Calder Cup playoffs.

Niittymaki also became the first ever goalie to score an overtime goal in North American pro-hockey history, scoring a game-winning, empty net, overtime, shorthanded, unassisted goal on April 11, 2004 versus the Hershey Bears.

He started the 2005-06 season with the Flyers as Robert Esche's back-up. When Esche got hurt, Antero was thrust into the starting role. He played in seventeen straight games, while Esche was out, and recorded his first career NHL shutout.

The 2006-07 season for Niittymaki was marred by injury and inconsistency. He suffered a torn labrum in his left hip during training camp and opted to wait until this off-season to have surgery to correct it - took cortisone shots throughout the season.

Teams also seemed to have Antero figured out. They figured out that he would squat into his butterfly stance very early when the opposition was in the offensive zone, and he was constantly being beaten up high with shots.

Perhaps the injury had something to do with his play, or perhaps he had a confidence issue, but Niittymaki clearly did not progress this season as the Flyers coaching staff had hoped.

Perhaps he can right his ship in 2007-08. The Flyers will need him to if anything were to happen to Martin Biron.
Filed Under:   Flyers   Niittymaki   Esche   2006 Olympics  
June 9, 2007 1:42 PM ET | Delete
Is there any chance he gets traded?
June 9, 2007 2:22 PM ET | Delete
Unlikely. I believe the Flyers still hold him in high regard. I don't see any team that would give up the quality player(s)/prospect(s) that the Flyers would expect in return for Niity.
June 9, 2007 3:21 PM ET | Delete
Take Kronwall and Wozniewski. Take Pohl if you want, or Antropov. Just take somebody!
June 9, 2007 6:19 PM ET | Delete
The Flyers hold his RFA rights and basically nobody else wants him enough to hand him a qualifier that the Flyers won't match. The Flyers hold him in less regard than they did 12 months ago, but since the qualifier is minimal, they'll basically cross their fingers and hope he doesn't suck as badly as he did in 2006-07.
June 9, 2007 8:47 PM ET | Delete
So you're telling me, if the Leafs gave him a qualifier of 750,000 or 1 million, the Flyers wouldn't match it? If so, how high would they go before they wouldn't match it, do you think?
June 10, 2007 4:53 PM ET | Delete
The qualifier the Flyers already gave him is $1.1mm. The Leafs would have to top that for starters. I think a lot of it would depend on where the cap is. Personally, if the Leafs offered him enough to require compensation of a third rounder or more, he's theirs.
June 11, 2007 8:41 PM ET | Delete
He's worth a 3rd rounder.
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