Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Welcome to the Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Facebook of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Twitter of the Philadelphia Flyers Official Instagram of the Philadelphia Flyers Official LinkedIn of the Philadelphia Flyers
 

NIITTY-GRITTY SCOUTING

Flyers expand European Scouting Staff, bring back Niittymaki

Wednesday, 06.05.2013 / 12:05 PM / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
X
Share with your Friends


NIITTY-GRITTY SCOUTING
When Antero Niittymaki finally decided to hang up his skates, he knew there was only one person he wanted to call about the next chapter in his professional life:\r\n\r\nFlyers general manager Paul Holmgren.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s because Niittymaki had previously expressed interest to Holmgren in getting into the world of scouting when his career was over.\r\n\r\nSo, after one final go last season in the Finnish Elite League playing for his hometown team of TPS Turku, Niittymaki made that call.

When Antero Niittymaki finally decided to hang up his skates, he knew there was only one person he wanted to call about the next chapter in his professional life:

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

That’s because Niittymaki had previously expressed interest to Holmgren in getting into the world of scouting when his career was over.

So, after one final go last season in the Finnish Elite League playing for his hometown team of TPS Turku, Niittymaki made that call.

Antero Niittymaki will try to help the organization who gave him a chance to play in the NHL by finding top talent in Europe as a new scout for the team.

“I always liked it there [in Philadelphia],” Niittymaki said. “I had a great seven years there. I kind of grew up with the organization in the minors and then got a chance in the NHL. I was able to kind of get my name out there with the Flyers and I always felt that was my team. That organization was closest to me. I like the way the organization works and all the people there and everything about it. It’s where I always wanted to be.

“To have a chance to work with them, I love that. I never even thought about calling anybody else.”

The conversation went well with Holmgren, and the Flyers added Niittymaki to the scouting staff.

He will work primarily in Europe, scouting alongside fellow Finn Ilkka Sinisalo. Niittymaki’s primary responsibility will be scouting European goaltenders, but he said he will also take notes on some skaters as well.

“Over the last few years, my hips were so bad I knew I wasn’t going to have a long career anymore,” Niittymaki said. “I started thinking more and more [about what was next] and I kept coming back to [the fact] that I liked watching games and I liked analyzing players.

“I had a few opportunities to coach at home here [in Finland] but I don’t think I’m that kind of person. I’m not a coach. I don’t feel like I’m the right person for coaching. I said no to all of those opportunities and I kept coming back to scouting.”

Holmgren had been talking with Niittymaki about this possibility for more than a year, and feels that Niittymaki is a cerebral guy who will fit the bill nicely.

“You don't need to spend much time with Antero to get a feel for his knowledge of all aspects of the game, and what it takes to play at the highest level,” Holmgren said, adding that the team also was looking to add a European scout to focus on identifying goalie prospects overseas at a younger age.

But he added that he thinks Niittymaki has the makings of the kind of guy who can do more than identify good goalies.

“We believe Antero's understanding of the game will make him a good all around scout," Holmgren said.

For his part, Niittymaki is hoping to make Holmgren a sage.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Niittymaki said. “I’m really excited about it and hopefully I’m good at it too.”

Nittymaki, who turns 33 next week, burst on the scene with the Flyers as a fill-in on the 2003-04 team, winning all three of his starts with the Flyers with a 1.01 GAA and a .961 save percentage.

He had a strong season that year with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the NHL while splitting time with Neil Little but took over the starting role for the Phantoms during the 2004-05 season while the NHL was locked out for an entire year.

Antero Niittymaki skates with the Calder Cup as a member of the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2005. (Getty Images)

In what was considered the best season in the storied history of the AHL with so much NHL-caliber talent playing as a result of the lockout, Niittymaki shined, having the best season of his professional career.

He finished 33-21-4 in 58 games with the Phantoms with a 2.07 GAA and a .924 save percentage. He carried that strong play over into the Calder Cup playoffs where he backstopped the Phantoms to their second Calder Cup championship, finishing with a stellar 1.75 GAA and a .943 save percentage while going 15-5 in the championship run.

For that effort, Niittymaki won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as MVP of the Calder Cup Playoffs – the AHL equivalent to the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Niittymaki spent the next four seasons with the Flyers, but never was able to seize the spotlight as a go-to goalie, mostly because of injuries to his hips.

He spent the next two summers as a free agent, first signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning and then with the San Jose Sharks.

After being waived by the Sharks, he played one more season in the AHL with two teams before heading back to Finland to finish his career this season with Turku.

Originally drafted by the Flyers in the sixth round (No. 168 overall) of the 1998 NHL entry draft, Niittymaki played 161 games for the Flyers, eighth-most in team history. He finished with a 62-61-23 record and a 3.01 GAA. His 62 wins rank 12th on the Flyers all-time list.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 32 22 6 4 102 72 48
2 NYI 33 23 10 0 104 91 46
3 MTL 34 21 11 2 92 83 44
4 TBL 35 20 11 4 113 93 44
5 DET 33 17 8 8 93 82 42
6 TOR 33 19 11 3 114 98 41
7 WSH 32 16 10 6 95 85 38
8 NYR 30 16 10 4 92 81 36
9 FLA 31 14 9 8 69 79 36
10 BOS 33 16 14 3 82 85 35
11 OTT 33 14 13 6 89 92 34
12 CBJ 32 14 15 3 79 102 31
13 PHI 32 12 14 6 88 96 30
14 NJD 35 12 17 6 77 102 30
15 BUF 33 13 18 2 63 105 28
16 CAR 32 9 19 4 68 91 22

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 32 12 30 13 42
C. Giroux 32 10 29 9 39
W. Simmonds 32 14 9 3 23
B. Schenn 32 9 13 6 22
M. Streit 32 4 16 4 20
S. Couturier 32 8 9 0 17
M. Read 32 3 10 -5 13
M. Raffl 24 9 2 3 11
N. Grossmann 32 3 5 6 8
M. Del Zotto 24 2 6 -6 8
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 6 10 5 .921 2.49
R. Emery 6 4 1 .894 3.13
Privacy Policy | AdChoices | California Privacy Rights | Contact Us | Advertise Employment | NHL.com Terms of Use

Philadelphiaflyers.com is the official Web site of the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia Flyers and philadelphiaflyers.com are trademarks of Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2014 Philadelphia Flyers, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.