With Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler headlining a dizzying list of injured Ducks, Anaheim won’t open its season at full-strength. On the other hand, the Arizona Coyotes won’t dress their would-be new starting goalie in Antti Raanta.
The holding pattern lingers
At 28, Raanta’s been waiting for a chance to be a top guy for a long time – excelling as a backup for both the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers – so this really has to sting.
And, really, it likely stings quite a bit more than it would for, say, Scott Darling.
Both backups were traded into intriguing opportunities, but while Darling signed a four-year, $16.6 million deal, Raanta didn’t get a new contract with the Coyotes. Instead, he’s in a high-pressure contract year; the Coyotes could easily decide that he’s not the goalie of the future. Meanwhile, goalies like Darling and Frederik Andersen got their money before they stopped a single puck for new teams.
The Coyotes deserve kudos for taking their potential new goalie for a test drive rather than splurging on an extension right away. That said, there’s the potential for an especially cruel turn for Raanta.
Prove it (again)
Consider this: Domingue ($1.05M) actually carries a slightly larger cap hit than Raanta ($1M). There’s at least a chance that he might outplay Raanta, especially if this is the type of issue that lingers.
In the bigger picture, this remains a golden opportunity. Just check out Raanta’s sparkling stats from the past three seasons:
2014-15 (Chicago): 12-7-4, .936 save percentage, .936 GAA
2015-16 (Rangers): 18-11-6, .919 save percentage, 2.25 GAA
2016-17 (Rangers): 26-16-8, .922 save percentage, 2.26 GAA
With what could be a stout Coyotes defense, it’s perfectly realistic to picture Raanta transitioning from a backup with strong starter numbers to a proven number one.
Can you blame Raanta if there’s at least a slight fear that this opportunity will split through his fingers, though?
* – Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a little banged-up but playing, so the Coyotes have their own injury challenges. Just nowhere near as many as the Ducks are facing.