The Philadelphia Flyers announced that they have signed 6’1”, 195-pound restricted free agent goaltender Antero Niittymaki (AN-tehr-oh NEE-too-mah-kee) to a new two-year contract, according General Manager Paul Holmgren. Per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed.
"We believe that Antero is a very good young goalie. He is only 26 years old and we feel that he is still on the upswing,” said Holmgren in making the announcement. “We realize that last year was a down year for everybody, including Antero. We feel that our goaltending, along with Marty Biron, is strong, and we are excited to have both of them under contract.”
Niittymaki, 26, posted a 9-29-9 record, 3.38 goals-against average and .894 save percentage in 52 games for the Flyers this past season. Over parts of three seasons, all with the Flyers, Niittymaki has a 35-44-15 record, 3.12 GAA and .896 save percentage in 101 career games.
During the 2005-06 season, the Turku, Finland native registered a 23-15-6 record, 2.97 GAA and .895 save percentage. He tied for third in wins among rookie NHL goaltenders with 23, which were also the most wins by a Flyers rookie goaltender since Ron Hextall won 37 games during the 1986-87 season. Niittymaki won a silver medal as a member of the Finnish National Team at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, posting a 5-1-0 record, 1.34 GAA and .951 save percentage, and was named as the tournament MVP.
In three seasons with the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms (2002-03 through 2004-05), Niittymaki compiled a 71-55-12 record and 2.19 GAA in 147 regular season games. His 2.19 GAA is the lowest career GAA in franchise history. He is second on the Phantoms All-Time list in games (147), shutouts (13) and wins (71). He was a member of the 2005 Calder Cup-winning team and was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the Calder Cup playoffs.
He was drafted by the Flyers in the sixth round (168th overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.