Skip to content

Sharks’ Thornton on Niemi: ‘I think he’s the best goalie in the world’

Apr 18, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT

ThorntonNiemi

As Brough wrote last week, there is no obvious choice for this year’s Vezina Trophy.

Joe Thornton, though, thinks differently.

The Sharks captain is backing Antti Niemi not just as the best goalie in the NHL — but on the planet.

“You’ve been watching the same as us. He’s been great for a long time,” Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. “Last night [Tuesday's 3-2 win over LA] he was great, tonight he was great. Three games ago he was great.

“Every night he gives us a chance to win, and I think he’s the best goalie in the world.”

Jumbo Joe might have a point.

Niemi is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career, leading the NHL in wins (22) while sitting seventh in save percentage (.926) and ninth in GAA (2.12).

Most impressively, he’s done all this as a workhorse, appearing in 39 of San Jose’s 43 games this year.

Only Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (41) has played more games.

The 29-year-old Finn is one of only two goalies with 1,000-plus saves this year (the other is Ryan Miller) and his four shutouts have him one back of league leaders Rinne, Cory Schneider and Mike Smith (all tied with five).

The big question about Niemi’s Vezina candidacy is where he plays.

San Jose often doesn’t drop puck until 10:30 p.m. ET, meaning a lot of voters (in this instance, NHL general managers) don’t get to see him play.

If you don’t think that’s an issue, consider this: Of the last 18 Vezina winners, 17 came from the Eastern Conference. The lone exception was in 2005-06, when Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff won it.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan says Niemi definitely deserves consideration for this year’s Vezina.

“Nemo deserves to be part of that conversation leaguewide when people begin to talk about potential candidates for those awards,” McLellan said. “His numbers speak for themselves.”

Latest Posts
  1. Looking to make the leap: Sam Reinhart

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT

    Sam Reinhart AP

    After a solid junior career, hopes to make the Sabres as an 18-year-old.

  2. Report: Tomas Kaberle ‘in line’ to attend Devils’ camp

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT

    Tomas Kaberle AP

    Last appeared in 10 games with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2012-13 season.

  3. Ex-NHLer Poeschek faces assault charge

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Court House

    He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 9.

  4. It’s Buffalo Sabres day on PHT

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Cody Hodgson Getty Images

    They’re in the middle of a rebuilding process.

  5. Eichel, like McDavid, will showcase his skills in Buffalo this fall

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    Of course, neither will be wearing a Sabres’ uniform – not yet at least.

  6. Boston extends affiliation with Providence, Pandolfo named development coach

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT

    Jay Pandolfo Getty Images

    They’ve also appointed Don Sweeney as the AHL team’s new general manager.

  7. Poll: Was 13-14 a fair representation of what Detroit was capable of?

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:28 PM EDT

    Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg Getty Images

    It matters given that they will start next season with a largely unchanged roster.

  8. Alfredsson’s future remains uncertain with camp looming

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

    Daniel Alfredsson Getty Images

    Ken Holland hasn’t been in contact with him lately, but that will change soon.

  9. NHL expansion talks emphatically shot down

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

    Bill Daly and Gary Bettman Getty Images

    “We haven’t defined a process and certainly no decisions have been made.”

  10. Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

    howardjimmygetty Getty Images

    Needs to bounce back after last year’s disappointing campaign.

  11. Flames re-sign shot-blocking ace Bouma

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

    Calgary Flames v New York Islanders Getty Images

    Finished second in the NHL among forwards last year, with 87.

  12. Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    AnthonyMantha

    Former Quebec league sniper is gunning for a gig in Detroit.

  13. Report: Rangers show interest in Malone

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:57 AM EDT

    Ryan Malone Getty Images

    Former Tampa Bay forward was bought out of his contract earlier this summer, following legal troubles.

  14. Red Wings’ playoff streak borders on historic, but does it matter?

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

    Gustav Nyquist AP

    The Red Wings are rebuilding on the fly, but are they assembling a future Cup contender?

  15. Despite ‘nightmare’ season, Clarkson excited for future

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    David Clarkson Getty Images

    He’ll enter the second season of his seven-year, $36.75 million contract.

  16. It’s Detroit Red Wings day on PHT

    Aug 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Henrik Zetterberg Getty Images

    They have made it to the playoffs for 23 straight seasons.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. C. Price (1822)
  2. J. Harding (1779)
  3. M. Staal (1639)
  4. J. Giguere (1579)
  5. J. Thornton (1470)
  1. A. Ekblad (1302)
  2. J. Spezza (1282)
  3. A. Semin (1279)
  4. C. MacArthur (1251)
  5. B. Bishop (1205)