Programming note: Sharks-Stars coverage stars at 5:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California.
DALLAS – Sharks goalie Antti Niemi said on Thursday morning that he wasn’t aware his name has been mentioned in trade talk in recent days.
“If somebody didn’t mention something, I wouldn’t know,” Niemi told the local media after the pregame skate at American Airlines Center, where he will start later against the Stars. “If you didn’t say anything I wouldn’t know, ya know?”
The well-liked goaltender said he doesn't pay attention to trade rumors, but didn’t appear overly surprised. After all, he’s a pending unrestricted free agent, hasn’t had any talks about a contract extension, and is currently the starter for a team that is in a bit of a free fall in recent weeks and enters Thursday night’s game in Dallas out of the playoff picture.
When asked if he would like to stay in San Jose after this year, Niemi replied: “Yeah, sure.”
Does he feel like one of the team’s leaders?
“Good question,” Niemi said. “I try to work hard and be an example on the ice and off the ice, for sure.”
Todd McLellan doesn’t expect Niemi to handle himself any differently in the days leading up to the March 2 deadline.
“Professional, focused, ready to play and help us have success – Nemo is that type of individual,” McLellan said.
“There’s a human element to the game, as well, and I’m sure he hears his name and it’s thought about. But, when he comes to the rink, he’s ready to play for us and he’s ready to play well.”
In 44 games, Niemi is 23-14-7 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.