The Blackhawks Have Important Decisions to Make at the Goaltender Position
When the Blackhawks sent Robin Lehner to Vegas, it cemented Corey Crawford as their starter going forward. But now that the season has come to an abrupt end, the goaltender situation is not so clear.
Should He Stay or Should He Go?
With the impending clash at the negotiation table looming, Blackhawks fans are impatiently waiting to hear the future of Corey Crawford. Crawford, who in the 2019-20 season went 16-20-3 with a .917 SV% and a 2.77 GAA, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. At 35 years old with an unfortunate history of concussions, Crawford may have played his best hockey already. This is undoubtedly an important decision to be made by Stan Bowman and Blackhawks management.
In a way, this decision embodies the current situation of the Blackhawks organization; do they hang on to the dynasty of the past ten years for as long as they can, or do they tear it all down and start fresh?
When Elliotte Freidman joined the Blackhawks Talk Podcast, he was asked about Crawford’s future with the Blackhawks. According to Friedman, the decision depends on a few variables.
I think it probably comes down to: A. Do the Blackhawks want him back?; B. Does Crawford want to come back for not a ton of term and possibly less money?; and C. There’s a lot of goalies out there this year, a lot of good goalie options, even good 1A options.– Elliotte Friedman / Blackhawks Talk Podcast
Whether Crawford re-signs or moves on, the decision will play a major role in shaping the team moving forward.
The Other Goalies
The Blackhawks currently have three goaltenders signed through the 2020-21 season (Collin Delia, Matt Tomkins, Kevin Lankinen) and one (Malcolm Subban) who becomes a restricted free agent this offseason.
Of the three goaltenders who played in Rockford this season, Collin Delia is the only one with NHL experience. Between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, Delia appeared in 16 games with the Blackhawks going 7-5-3 while posting a .906 SV% and a 3.65 GAA.
It seemed Delia would be given the backup job this past season, but the signing of Robin Lehner meant he would have to bide his time in the AHL. Delia assumed the starting role in Rockford and finished the season with a record of 16-13-1 while posting a respectable .912 SV% and a 2.66 GAA.
Now that Lehner has been traded to Vegas and a return to Chicago seems improbable, Delia should expect an opportunity to play in the NHL once again next season.
The Blackhawks received Malcolm Subban in the trade with Vegas that sent Robin Lehner to the desert. Subban was never given the opportunity to start for his new team so management and fans don’t know what they have in him.
His career numbers are less than appealing and his 2019-20 season was no different. Playing with the Vegas Golden Knights, Subban went 9-7-3 with a .890 SV% and a 3.18 GAA.
He is a restricted free agent this offseason and his future with the Blackhawks can likely be compared to his starts with the team; nonexistent.
Recently re-signed Kevin Lankinen had the second most starts behind Delia this season in Rockford. After agreeing to a two-year deal on April 2nd, Lankinen has cemented his spot in Rockford.
During this past season serving as the number two goalie behind Delia, Lankinen appeared in 21 games with a record of 8-10-2 with a .909 SV% and a 3.03 GAA.
It is unlikely Lankinen will see any time with the Blackhawks, but he will be an important piece in Rockford for the next two seasons.
Matt Tomkins is the forgotten goalie of the bunch. He is currently signed through the 2020-21 season and will continue to serve as a backup goaltender in Rockford.
In 13 appearances this season, Tomkins posted a record of 5-7-1 with a .896 SV% and a 3.12 GAA. While Collin Delia will probably be passed between Rockford and Chicago all next season, Tomkins will continue his role as a backup behind Lankinen with the IceHogs.
Now we wait. Just like the rest of the hockey world waiting to see the outcome of the 2019-20 season, Blackhawks fans must wait for any news of Corey Crawford’s future with the team. Will Stan hold on to the past, or begin to build for the future?