After yet another playoff collapse, many are wondering how the San Jose Sharks can possibly rebound. In many aspects, the Sharks feel like a “cursed” team. After allowing the Los Angeles Kings to come back from a three games to none deficit to win the first round Stanley Cup Playoff series, it is time to make some serious changes — and the first change must start between the pipes.
Current “starting” goaltender Antti Niemi has clearly lost any sort of respect that Sharks’ head coach Todd McLellan had for him on yet another wild ride through the first round. Although Niemi is not fully to blame this time around, unlike last season, he certainly deserves a heaping pile of it. McLellan had no confidence whatsoever in Niemi to go out and win a crucial Game 6, and as such backup goalie Alex Stadlock got the nod — San Jose, of course, lost.
The Sharks have no choice but to move on from their current goalie, as for two straight seasons it has been him that everyone is staring at as the cause of collapse. Stadlock is clearly not a long-term answer, as he looked like an unpotty trained Labrador in net for Game 6; so what is the long-term answer? That would be free agent goalie, Ryan Miller.
Yes, Miller obviously melted under pressure against the Chicago Blackhawks this season. And yes, Miller melted under pressure in 2011 while he was with the Buffalo Sabres in a series against the Philadelphia Flyers. But San Jose has no other options. Miller is quite obviously the best goaltender available in free agency this offseason, unless San Jose plans on taking a flyer on 43-year-old Martin Brodeur. Miller also is certainly not going to be re-signed by the St. Louis Blues. The Blues would need to send the Sabres (whom they acquired him from) an additional first-round pick if they re-sign Miller. The end of the line for Niemi in San Jose is here, and if the Sharks plan on ever getting over this curse, they must acquire an elite goaltender.