The Chicago Blackhawks wealth in goal has been well documented this season.
While starter Corey Crawford was sidelined both Antti Raanta and Scott Darling stepped in and proved to be NHL-ready netminders.
Raanta is 7-3-0 with a 1.87 G.A.A. and a .939 save percentage this season while Darling is 5-2-0 with a 1.97 G.A.A. and a .937 save percentage.
Darling has spent a bulk of the season in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs where he has an 11-6-2 record to go along with a 2.13 G.A.A. and a .931 save percentage.
“I think you need that,” general manager Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times. “If you look around the league, the majority of teams have used three goalies this year. There’s only a couple teams that are just going with their two.
“That’s an area we haven’t had a lot of depth in in the past, and we got through it. But in the future, we’d like to have three goalies that you know can play in the NHL. It’s worked out great this year, and even Michael Leighton’s been dynamite in Rockford, so we really have four goalies that could easily come and play on any night.”
With the trade deadline fast approaching and Darling a pending restricted free agent, Bowman has no intention to use Darling as an asset in a trade.
“He’s a Chicago kid, I know he wants to be with us,” Bowman said. “We’ll get that worked out. I think it’s nice to see that our hopes for him ended up playing out the way we had hoped.”
Leighton, a pending unrestricted free agent, is 3-0-2 with a 0.89 G.A.A. and a .974 save percentage this month with the IceHogs.
For the first time since taking over from Brendan Shannahan as Senior Vice President of Player Safety, Stephane Quintal addressed the NHL general managers during meetings in Toronto on Tuesday.
Quintal’s main concern is the rash of knee-on-knee penalties around the league through the first month and a half of the season.
Zach Kassian is just one example. The Vancouver Canucks forward has missed two weeks of action after colliding with Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden.
Holden was assessed a minor penalty for tripping on the play. Kassian, who is expected to return to Vancouver’s lineup tonight, has missed five games due to an injury resulting from the hit.
“There have been statistically more of those penalties this year versus the last couple years,” said Blackhawks GM, Stan Bowman. “It could just be one of those things that over the first six weeks you’ve had a few more than in the past.
“We touched on the fact that those numbers are up.”
If you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan that’s stressing out about how the team is above the salary cap at the moment, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing GM Stan Bowman isn’t too worried right now.
Before the start of the Blackhawks convention in Chicago, Bowman addressed reporters regarding where the team is at following the bulk of free agency. According to CapGeek, the Blackhawks are currently over the salary cap by $2.2 million, but as Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com shared, it’s not a problem for the team right now.
“A lot of things change between now and (October.) You have to display some patience,” Bowman said prior to the Blackhawks’ convention opening ceremonies. “A lot of things happen once camps open, both for us and for other teams, in terms of players maybe you expect to meet expectations don’t quite do it and certain teams are looking around trying to find players. I always think you’re always in a good position when you have a lot of established players. I think that’s better than the other way around.”
Teams don’t have to be cap compliant until the start of the regular season, so stressing out now doesn’t do a lot of good. All it takes is for an injury with another team during training camp to create a need elsewhere.
Only problem for Chicago is they’re one of four teams currently over the cap with Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Boston also joining them. They’ll have company when it comes to finding a partner to deal with to get under the limit.
When July 1 rolls around, both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane can begin negotiating contract extensions with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The pair of superstar forwards signed matching five-year, $31.5 million deals back in 2010 that expire next summer. It’s expected they’ll sign matching deals again this time around as well. As Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times shared, Toews said he’s in discussions with GM Stan Bowman already and wants to stay for a long time.
“We don’t know what that process is going to entail exactly, but I think everyone knows we love Chicago and we understand how much we’ve been given by the organization and fans,” Toews said. “We want to be there for as long as we possibly can be — hopefully our entire careers. That’s the priority right there.”
Toews was the third overall pick in the NHL Draft by the Blackhawks in 2006 and Kane was the No. 1 pick by Chicago in 2007. Those two have been the dynamic duo there ever since and have won two Stanley Cups together.
While the two want to stay together, Toews admitted that both he and Kane have to do what’s best for themselves and their families. It’s hard to picture these two parting ways right when it seems like they’re just getting going terrorizing the league with their skills.
The Chicago Blackhawks are bringing back a familiar face after doing business with a familiar partner.
The Blackhawks acquired forward Kris Versteeg and prospect forward Philippe Lefebvre from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen. Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports the Panthers will keep half of Versteeg’s salary as part of the deal.
Versteeg was a member of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 2010, but was traded after the season to Toronto in a package deal to get Viktor Stalberg. Since then, he’s gone from the Maple Leafs to the Philadelphia Flyers to the Panthers where he’s played the past two seasons.
In his time with Florida, Versteeg has scored 25 goals (99 games). He scored 20 in his final season with the ‘Hawks.
The connection on this deal is a familiar one as ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman and Panthers GM Dale Tallon know each other all too well. Tallon, of course, is the former Blackhawks GM who was fired in favor of Bowman.
The two players the Panthers acquired have played in the AHL for most of the season. Hayes appeared in two games with Chicago this season before spending the rest of his time in Rockford. Lefebvre, meanwhile, is currently in the ECHL.
Think the Blackhawks were prepared for this deal? They’ve already tweeted out his new-old uniform.