A week after hitting the free agent market, former Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki has opted to head to Russia. Ironically, he will suit up for Atlant Moscow Oblast, the former team of Ray Emery -- one of the players who forced him out of Philadelphia.
Niittymaki had been with the orange and black for six seasons, beginning in 2003. In 2004/05, he led the Phantoms to the AHL's Calder Cup championship during the NHL lockout. He was named playoff MVP that year as well. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Niittymaki led Finland to the silver medal while earning Tournament MVP honors.
As a Flyer, he recieved many chances to take the starting position during his four full NHL seasons. At each crossroads, he faltered and ultimately lost the job. His inconsistency is the primary reason the Flyers didn't opt to re-sign him this offseason.
His counterpart from this past season, Martin Biron, is also still without a team this offseason for the same reason the Flyers passed on him -- money. Teams across the NHL believe Biron is asking for too much money, and he will likely have to make big concessions if he wants to land an NHL job. Several teams are still without two goaltenders, including San Jose and Colorado.