With Carey Price and Al Montoya still not back at practice with the team, and Zach Fucale serving as an emergency backup the team has claimed Antti Niemi off waivers from the Florida Panthers. Price today said that he was getting closer to a return, but with Montoya still out indefinitely the team needed a more experienced backup. Fucale, a prized prospect, needs to get back to starting in the minor leagues.
Niemi is onto his third team this year after being previously waived by the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers. That follows a summer that saw him bought out by the Dallas Stars, another team that could deal with his lackluster performance any longer. The Stars will pay him $1.5MM this year as terms of the buyout, but now Montreal will pick up the remainder of his $700K hit—that is, if they were to keep him.
[Niemi] gives us some depth. Not knowing how far off [Montoya] is, he gives us a safety net. When Carey is back, we’ll re-evaluate our goalie situation, and same thing when [Montoya] is back.
This move seems destined to lead to another waiving of the 34-year old goaltender as soon as Price returns, unless they decide that having Charlie Lindgren in the minor leagues is better for his development. The young Lindgren has performed admirably in his four starts, showing that he’s ready for an NHL job of some sort.
Niemi of course has history with Bergevin from their days in Chicago. As a rookie in 2010, Niemi led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup while Bergevin served as Director of Player Personnel.