Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

Raanta calls contract situation with Blackhawks a ‘big mystery’


One can almost argue that every big Corey Crawford save and strong playoff performance decreases the Chicago Blackhawks’ incentive to give pending restricted free agent goalie Antti Raanta a nice raise.

Even Raanta acknowledges the cloudy situation:

Despite the confusion, Raanta still took the time out to provide one of his charming and slightly-less-than-fluent quotes about a whirlwind first season in the NHL:

On one hand, the Finnish netminder managed a 13-5-4 record with Chicago. On the other, his save percentage was a below-average (if not bad) mark of .897. For some perspective, Ray Emery put up a dominant 2012-13 season with the Blackhawks but was unable to replicate that work with the Philadelphia Flyers this season.

The Blackhawks struggled with their backup situation this season, as Nikolai Khabibulin’s health and inconsistency derailed somewhat shaky plans to use him as the No. 2 while the team acquired journeyman Jason LaBarbera in case Raanta faltered.

With his restricted status in mind, Raanta will probably need to settle for a cheap deal (or maybe flee to Europe), especially considering Crawford’s $6 million cap hit and a tight cap situation for Chicago overall.

It could be interesting to watch this “big mystery” unravel, then.

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”