TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning
have signed free agent goaltender Antero Niittymaki
today, Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton
“We fully recognized the need to add an experienced back-up goaltender this summer and today we feel we’ve accomplished that goal,” Lawton said. “Not only is Antero already an established number two in the NHL who can steal games, but we feel he is very capable of working with Mike Smith
to give us a formidable 1-2 punch in goal.”
Niittymaki, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, has played in 161 career NHL games, all with the Philadelphia Flyers
. He has posted a 62-61-23 record with a .901 save percentage and a 3.01 goals-against average. In 2005-06 Niittymaki was tied for third among rookie goaltenders in wins with 23, the most by a Flyers rookie since 1986-87. He was also named the NHL Defensive Player of the Week for the period ending January 8.
A native of Turku, Finland, Niittymaki won the Silver Medal with his native country at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, posting a 5-1-0 record, 1.34 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage with three shutouts. He was named to the Media All-Star team and was recognized as the Best Goaltender as well as the Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Niittymaki appeared in 32 games with Philadelphia in 2008-09, posting a 15-8-6 record, a .912 save percentage and a 2.76 goals-against average with one shutout. Last season he saw improvements from 2007-08 in games played from 28 to 32, losses from nine to eight, save percentage from .907 to .912 and goals-against average from 2.91 to 2.76.
Entering his sixth NHL season, Niittymaki was drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round, 168th overall, of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.