This morning, the Montreal Canadiens announced the signing of backup goaltender Antti Niemi to a one-year deal worth $950,000. Niemi was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Niemi was claimed off waivers by the Canadiens late in the fall after two very short and unsuccessful stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Florida Panthers last season. At that point, it appeared that Niemi’s NHL career may be over. However, under the tutelage of Goalie Coach Stephane Waite – who also coached Niemi in Chicago where they won a Stanley Cup with the veteran Finn – Niemi regained his game and went 7-5-4 with a 2.46 GAA and a strong .929 save percentage for the Canadiens.
The move likely signals that Charlie Lindgren will remain in Laval one more season to refine his game before earning a full-time spot with the big club. Lindgren is signed to a one-year, one-way contract for $750,000 for the 2018-19 season, thereby being paid the same salary whether he plays in Montreal or with the Laval Rocket. Lindgren remains waiver-eligible for one more season so there isn’t any risk if they choose to send him down.