Chicago keeps Raanta on roster over LaBarbera

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Now that Corey Crawford has returned from a lower-body injury, the Chicago Blackhawks needed to chose between keeping veteran goaltender Jason LaBarbera or 24-year-old rookie Antti Raanta to serve as his understudy.

The Blackhawks made their decision known today by sending LaBarbera to AHL Rockford.

Given that Raanta excelled during Crawford’s absence to the point where he was named the co-winner of the NHL’s rookie of the month award, this move doesn’t come as a surprise. At the same time, there was an argument to be made for keeping LaBarbera.

With Crawford expected to get a clear majority of the starts now that he’s back, perhaps Raanta would have been better served by returning to the AHL where he could get more playing time. After all, Raanta is making the transition from European to North American hockey this season.

Nikolai Khabibulin remains sidelined with a lower-body injury that has already forced him to miss nearly a month and a half. Once Khabibulin is ready to return, the Blackhawks will make another adjustment.