Chicago Blackhawks Draft Targets – Part 5

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The 2018 NHL draft is less than two weeks away. The Chicago Blackhawks are preparing to draft four times in the first three rounds with some of the highest picks in years. After last seasons huge disappointment, the Blackhawks must draft well to compete in the Western Conference playoff picture next season. 

Draft Targets – Part 5

Over the last few weeks, we’ve covered the options available for the Blackhawks upcoming draft. In Part 1, we discussed the Blackhawks drafting an NHL ready defence prospect with the 8th overall pick. Part 2 of the series reviewed options for the franchise with their second first round draft pick at #27. In Part 3, we looked at the wingers available for the Blackhawks who need to get better play on the wing soon. Centres were the topic with Part 4 of the series. There are several centres available that would help the team up the middle in the near future.

Drafting Goaltending

In Part 5, we will examine the options for the Blackhawks who should be looking to draft their goaltender of the future this year. We will highlight the top goalie prospects available in this years draft. We’ll also review the goalies now under contract with the team and goalies recently drafted by the Blackhawks. 

The status of their number-one goalie Corey Crawford is the key to what direction the Blackhawks take with this draft. The team has been incredibly quiet with respect to Crawford’s health, only saying he’ll be ready for training camp. They also announced Crawford would be attending the Blackhawks annual fan convention. His presence should create an interesting situation during the question and answer segment with the fans to say the least.

Goaltending Prospects

There are several goalies that could be targets for the Blackhawks this draft. We’ll be using the insight of Last Word’s own Ben Kerr and his Top Shelf Prospects page for each player. Be sure to click on the link to view the goalie’s stats, Ben’s analysis, and a video highlight reel for each goalie. 

Jakub Skarek at #60 Overall

“Skarek has the potential to be a number one goaltender in the NHL. However, like most young goaltenders, he is a project and is several years away from the NHL. He must continue to work on sharpening up his game. He also will need to add some bulk, in order to withstand the rigours of a longer season and more games played. Skarek’s style is reminiscent of Marc-Andre Fleury, but this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on potential or ability.”

Olivier Rodrigue at #63 Overall

“Rodrigue has the potential to be a number one goalie in the NHL, but is still a bit of a project. He will need at least two more years of junior and then some time in the AHL. Rodrigue is a bit skinny right now, and could add some muscle to his frame. This will help him to adjust to the rigours of the pro game. He also needs to clean up a bit of his fundamentals, including his glove hand and rebound control. This is normal for young goalies though, and the potential is certainly there. In terms of style, Rodrigue’s game is reminiscent of Jonathan Bernier, but this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on talent or ability.”

Alexis Gravel at #71 Overall

“Gravel has the potential to be a top goaltender in the NHL. He has the prototypical frame and many of the skills necessary. Like many young goalies though, this is a gamble, as he will take several years before being NHL ready. There are certainly some areas to work on, including consistency. Gravel’s style is similar to Marc-Andre Fleury, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.”

All of these goalies may be available when the Blackhawks draft in the third round with pick #69. The Blackhawks would be wise to draft a goalie prospect with potential to prepare for the future in case Corey Crawford‘s health continues to be a problem. 

Blackhawks Current Goaltenders

Listed below are the goaltenders now under contract with the Blackhawks. Shown with them are their stats for last season and their salaries going forward. Salaries and contract status will need to be considered as the team prepares for next season. As you can see below, only Corey Crawford and recently-signed Kevin Lankinen are under contract past 2018-19. This off-season will be another tough one for general manager Stan Bowman. 

Corey Crawford $6,000,000 per season through 2019-20

Stats 2017-18

19-9-2   2.27 GA   .929 SV

Anton Forsberg $750,000 for 2018-19  RFA – 2019

Stats 2017-18

10-16-4  2.97 GA   .908 SV

Collin Delia $675,000 for 2018-19  RFA – 2019

Stats 2017-18

17-7-2  2.72 GA  .900 SV (Rockford Reg Season)

7-3-0 2.34 GA .924  SV (Rockford Playoffs)

Jean-Francois Berube $700,000 for 2018-19 UFA -2019 

Stats 2017-18

3-6-1  3.78 GA  .894 SV  (Blackhawks)

7-8-0  2.37 GA  .920 SV  (Rockford)

Jeff Glass Current UFA

Stats 2017-18

3-7-1  3.36 GA  .898 SV  (Blackhawks)

15-9-1  2.82 GA  .904  SV (Rockford)

2-1-0  1.48 GA .955 SV (Rockford Playoffs)

Kevin Lankinen $925,000 thru 2019-20  RFA – 2020 

Stats 2017-18

10-3-2  1.33 GA  .940 SV (Helsinki Liga)

7-5-0  1.99 GA  .930 SV (Helsinki Playoffs)

Blackhawks Recently Drafted Goaltenders

Wouter Peeters Drafted 2016 #83 Overall

2017-18 Stats

14-11-1 3.00 GA  .902 SV (Youngstown Phantoms)

Ivan Nalimov Drafted 2014 #179 Overall

2017-18 Stats

6-10-0 1.98 GA .942 SV  (Vladivostok Admiral KHL)

4-0-2 2.59 GA .927 SV  (Ufa Salavat Yulayev KHL)

Season Ahead

The goaltending situation for the Chicago Blackhawks 2018-19 season is a concern for most of their fans. The only goalie listed above who has a proven track record as a starter in the NHL is Corey Crawford. Assuming Crawford returns to form and plays at a Vezina-level for a full season, the Blackhawks have the chance to erase last season’s nightmare.

If Crawford is unable to stay healthy or falters in net, the season will then ride on the other goalies currently under contract. Most of them are capable backups, but can they grab the starter’s job and hold it? As seen last season, several of them tried but could not overcome the team’s poor defensive play in front of them.

The one dark horse I see pushing for a roster spot is Collin Delia. He may not make the opening night roster, but he should get a shot during the season. Based on his play in Rockford last season, his future in net looks bright.

Next Up

In Part 6 of the Chicago Blackhawks Draft Targets series, we will recap the draft prospects and also include any trade rumors circulating prior to the draft on June 22nd. Knowing Stan Bowman, multiple deals are already in the works.

Links to the previous articles:

Draft Targets Part 1 – Defence

Draft Targets Part 2 – Options at #27

Draft Targets Part 3 – Wingers

Draft Targets Part 4 – Centres

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