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The Lightning makes a pitch for goalie Antero Niittymaki

This would be an interesting situation. Antero Niittymaki, formerly of the Flyers, was not given a qualifying offer because of some concerns about hip problems the past few seasons for which he had surgery in September 2008. There are also reports he is being courted by Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, though no signing has been announced.

Lightning GM Brian Lawton has decliend to say who the team is after, but said an offer has been extended and a decision is expected soon.

Niittymaki, 29, is an intriguing player, and was 15-8-6 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 32 games last season in which he made $1.375 million. The thinking in Philadelphia, though, seemed to be that his body (remember the hip problems) could not handle a full season as a No. 1. That is why the backup job to Mike Smith could be attractive.

Niittymaki is an excellent side-to-side player and is extremely quick. He has a tendency to go down early and is vulnerable over the shoulder. But when he is on, and with his experience, he could probably carry a team for 10 days to two weeks if needed.

So, we'll see where it leads. Maybe nowhere. Maybe to Russia, but perhaps to Tampa Bay.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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