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Doug Wilson Won't Rule Out Bringing Back Niemi

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks are cutting ties with three players but could bring back starting goaltender Antti Niemi, general manager Doug Wilson said Friday.

Wilson said he's already told 36-year-old defenseman Scott Hannan and fourth-line forward John Scott they won't be re-signed. The Sharks also waived 32-year-old forward Adam Burish on Friday and will buy out the final season of his four-year contract. Burish was waived Nov. 23, cleared waivers and was reassigned to Worcester of the American Hockey League.

Niemi and defenseman Matt Irwin will become unrestricted free agents on July 1, but Wilson said he has talked to the players' agents and left open the possibility of re-signing one or both.

Antti Niemi
Goalie  - SJS
Record: 31-23-7
GAA: 2.59 | Sv%: .914
"They would like to be here, but unrestricted free agency is a two-way street," Wilson said. "It has to be a match for us. But would they like to be here? I think they've answered those questions publicly. It's just whether it fits for us and them and what the alternatives are for all parties involved."

If no agreement is reached, Wilson could trade their negotiating rights before free agency begins.

Niemi signed with the Sharks in the summer of 2010 after leading the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup and has spent the past five seasons with San Jose. He was 31-23-7 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in 2014-15; in 296 regular-season games with San Jose, Niemi was 163-92-35 with a 2.40 GAA and .917 save percentage.

Irwin had eight goals and 19 points in 53 games with the Sharks this season. He has 16 goals and 50 points in 153 regular-season games during three NHL seasons with San Jose.

According to Wilson, contract negotiations are "progressing" with restricted free agent defenseman Brenden Dillon and forward Melker Karlsson. He also said forward Raffi Torres is making strong progress in his recovery from knee surgery.

"It looks good for him to be back in September," Wilson said of Torres, who missed all of last season. "He's progressing really well."

The Sharks also announced that longtime American Hockey League coach Roy Sommer will be behind the bench for their new AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, which begins play in the fall. Sommer has spent the past 17 seasons coaching San Jose's AHL affiliates in Kentucky, Cleveland and Worcester, Mass. The Sharks are one of five teams moving their AHL affiliates to California for the 2015-16 season.

Author: Eric Gilmore | Correspondent

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