Frustrated Niittymaki: 'I want to play'


Frustrated Niittymaki: 'I want to play'

SAN JOSE Antero Niittymaki has been an active player on the Sharks roster since returning on Dec. 23 from a conditioning stint in Worcester. He has yet to play, or even dress as a backup, in the six games the Sharks have played since.

He was asked after Mondays practice at Sharks Ice if hes frustrated.

Obviously, yeah. What can I say? Obviously, I want to play, but it doesnt look like Im going to play any time soon, Niittymaki told Comcast SportsNet California in an exclusive conversation.

Niittymaki, who had hip surgery in early September causing him to miss training camp and the first two and a half months this year, was asked point blank if hed like to play somewhere else if thats what gets him back in the crease.

I want to play. I want to play. Lets put it that way. Ive played zero games this year, he said.

No one from the team has approached him about the possibility of getting traded, he said.

Its a complicated situation for an NHL team to carry three goaltenders, especially when Sharks starter Antti Niemi gets the bulk of the work and is playing well. The Sharks have no choice at the moment, though, unless they want to risk losing Niittymaki or Thomas Greiss for nothing. Neither is exempt from waivers if the club decided to reassign one to Worcester.

That doesnt prevent the Sharks from trying to get something in return via trade. Niittymaki, 31, is the likelier candidate to get moved, as he is a proven veteran and an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Greiss, 25, has shown himself as a capable backup this season and is signed through 2012-13 season with a low salary cap hit of 587,500.

To his credit, Niittymaki has remained positive in practice and around the team, according to Todd McLellan.

I think hes been a really good teammate and a coachable player. He wants to get his game back, and has worked real had in practice, McLellan said.

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

The Sharks officially announced the signing of defenseman Radim Simek to a one-year contract on Tuesday, as well as Swedish forward Filip Sandberg to a two-year contract.

Simek’s deal was reported on Monday and confirmed by NBC Sports California. The 24-year-old defenseman spent the past five seasons in the Czech league, posting 24 points (11g, 13a) and 30 penalty minutes with a plus-18 rating last season. A left-handed shot, he is listed at five-foot-11 and 196 pounds on the IIHL website.

In 211 career games in the Czech league, he posted 91 points (37g, 54a) and a plus-51 rating.

"Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America."

Sandberg, 22, has 71 points (25g, 46a) in 204 career games in the Swedish league. Last season, he posted 25 points (8g, 17a) and a plus-17 rating in 52 games.

The five-foot-nine, 180-pound Stockholm native also competed in the World Jr. Championships in 2013 and 2014, helping Sweden win silver both years.

"Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space," Wilson said. "He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players. We are excited for him to join our organization."

The contracts for Simek and Forsberg are two-way deals, allowing them to play for the AHL Barracuda next season.


Sharks sign defenseman from Czech Republic


Sharks sign defenseman from Czech Republic

The Sharks have signed Czech defenseman Radim Simek to a one-year contract.

The two-way deal, originally reported by Radio Praha in the Czech Republic, is expected to be announced by the Sharks later this week, according to a source. Simek just finished competing for his country in the 2017 IIHF World Championships, skating in all eight games for the Czech Republic while posting one goal, one assist, 11 shots and a minus-two rating.

Simek, 24, has spent the last five seasons in the Czech League. In 42 games for Liberec in 2016-17, he posted 24 points (11g, 13a) and 30 penalty minutes with a plus-18 rating. A left-handed shot, he is listed at five-foot-11 and 196 pounds on the IIHF website.

The New York Rangers were also interested in Simek, according to the report.

Simek will likely begin next season with the AHL Barracuda.

The Sharks have signed a number of free agents out of Europe in recent seasons, including Joonas Donskoi in 2015 and Marcus Sorensen and Tim Heed last May.