NHL San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks: Who Will Back Up Antti Niemi For 2013-14 Season?

San Jose Sharks Greiss

Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks came up just short of reaching the Western Conference Finals this season, and with star goaltender Antti Niemi between the pipes they will always be a contender to return there. While Niemi is definitely a workhorse goaltender, the Sharks currently don’t have a backup netminder signed for next season. Thomas Greiss filled that role this season, but he is one of five netminder in the system in need of a new contract. The only goaltender other than Niemi that is signed for next season is J.P. Anderson, who has no professional experience.

Greiss appeared in only six games this season, and certainly didn’t make the strongest case that he should be brought back. His 2.45 goals-against average and .915 save percentage weren’t terrible, but his 1-4-0 was. Anderson is signed for two more seasons and may finally get a chance to suit up for the Worcester Sharks of the AHL, but there is no way he’s ready to play with the Sharks.

A look at the other free agent goaltenders in the system doesn’t provide much in the way of NHL experience either. Troy Grosenick, Harri Sateri and Thomas Heemskerk have not played for the Sharks, and Alex Stalock has only appeared in three games for them. The upside to Greiss is his low salary, but with a lot of experienced backup goaltenders hitting the market the Sharks may finally be looking to upgrade and lighten Niemi’s load. They may have a future contributor in the mix here, but another season or two of AHL time isn’t going to hurt any of the netminders mentioned above.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL senior writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.