The Montreal Canadiens are likely ready to give Charlie Lindgren a chance at the NHL in 2019-20, given that he will no longer be waiver-exempt. The team would need to expose the young goaltender to the rest of the league in order to send him down to the minors, meaning he very well could serve as Carey Price’s backup. That would mean there isn’t much room for Antti Niemi to re-sign with the team, which is why a report linking him to the KHL today doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Finnish newspaper Satakunnan Kansa is reporting that Niemi will join Jokerit for next season, though he is technically still under contract with the Canadiens until July 1st.
Niemi, 35, played in just 17 games with the Canadiens this season and struggled once again to the tune of an .887 save percentage. That poor performance comes after the Stanley Cup-winning goaltender rejuvenated his career in Montreal in 2017-18, going 7-5-4 with a .929 after failing to catch on with both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers. Niemi is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer after his one-year, $950K contract expires.