Backup goalie Thomas Greiss signs in the league where he started his professional hockey career, inking a deal with Hannover of the DEL for the remainder of the lockout.
Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss has signed with the Hannover Scorpions of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top-tier professional hockey league. The German native is no stranger to plying his trade in Europe, having begun his career in 2003 with Kölner Haie of the DEL before being loaned to Brynas of the Swedish Elite League during the 2010-11 season after the Sharks' offseason acquisitions of Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki meant there was no room for Greiss in San Jose's crease.
Greiss played admirably in 19 games as the club's backup last season. Among NHL goaltenders who faced at least 200 even-strength shots in 2011-12, only Brian Elliott, Jaroslav Halak, Mike Smith, Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundqvist, Niklas Backstrom and Cory Schneider posted higher even-strength save percentages than Greiss. Granted, the 26-year-old was largely used against weak opposing teams and, just like the Sharks in general, was a disaster on the penalty kill. Still, after a year-long exile in Sweden the previous season, Greiss proved in 2011-12 that he's at the very least a competent backup at the NHL level if not someone who can legitimately push Niemi for the starting job in the future.
Greiss becomes the ninth Shark to sign overseas during the lockout. He'll join T.J. Galiardi in Germany while Joe Thornton and Logan Couture continue to play in Switzerland, Michal Handzus recently signed in Slovakia, Joe Pavelski remains injured in the KHL, Douglas Murray is in Sweden and Tommy Wingels, Jason Demers and Niemi all play in Finland.