Grading the 2009 Flyers: Antero Niittymaki

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Grade: C

2008/09 Salary: $1.375 million - 2008/09 Cap Hit: $1.225 million

2009/10 Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

Depth Chart Ranking: #2 at Goaltender

[Broad Street Hockey Profile Page] - [Hockey Reference Profile Page]

The theme of the Flyers season was inconsistency, and if you had to pick one player as the most inconsistent on the team, it would have to be Antero Nittymaki. It's basically become his modus operandi to play brilliantly for one stretch of games and then terrible for another stretch, causing headaches all around the Delaware Valley and especially in the Flyers front office.

It's hard to get a handle on Niittymaki's true talents. He was the MVP of the Olympics in 2004 with Finland and he backstopped the Phantoms to the Calder Cup in 2005, but over his NHL career, he hasn't been able to duplicate the same kind of success. He's shown glimmers of excellence, but he hasn't been able to hold on to that level of play long enough to earn a consistent starting job.

I argued back in February that Niittymaki had earned the starting position. Martin Biron was playing absolutely atrocious hockey and Niittymaki had played great until that point. My argument was that Niitty just never had a chance to prove his worth at the NHL level, due to the presence of Biron on Robert Esche or whoever.

Perhaps Niittymaki could feel the heat, because he self-destructed after that proclamation I made. He stopped the excellent goaltending. He reverted to being the guy that can't be trusted to come up with a big save. He looked overwhelmed and out of place in the net, inconsistency haunting him again.

Biron took his job back. The Flyers went into the playoffs. And Antero Nittymaki probably played his last game in Philly in the process.

Next up in our Grading the Flyers series is rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa.

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