Antti Niemi appears to be on his way back to Finland, with a report that he has signed with Jokerit and will play in the KHL next season.
Antti Niemi from @CanadiensMTL to @jokerithc #nhl #khl ping @ArponBasu https://t.co/bSNbNHE3o7— Juha Luotola (@JLuotola) May 8, 2019
This isn’t much of a surprise. Niemi was the only player that Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed would not be returning at the team’s locker room clear out at the end of the season.
For Niemi, it will be his first return to Finland since the 2007-08 season, except for a brief time during the lockout in 2012-13. He played 463 NHL games with a record of 242-140-57. He won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks and played with six teams throughout his NHL career.
It will be his first time in the KHL as his previous action in Finland came in the Liiga with Pelicans. Niemi will turn 36 in August.
For the Canadiens, this confirms that there will be an internal battle for the backup goaltender spot. Charlie Lindgren is currently the frontrunner for the spot behind Carey Price.