Everyone is planning for a fresh start in 2021, and the Chicago Blackhawks are no different. Amid all of the uncertainty between the pipes following the departure of goaltender Cory Crawford, the spotlight on the team’s youngest talent is getting hotter and hotter.
Vying to replace Crawford are Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban. Lankinen stands out among the three as he is yet to make his NHL debut. However, this is no reason for fans to set low expectations. In fact, the Finnish netminder claimed the second-highest save percentage of .942 through the 2019 Ice Hockey World Championship tournament and helped lead his team to the gold.
Lankinen is not simply getting by on one résumé bullet point, however. Blackhawks coaching staff took notice as the goaltender powered past the more experienced Subban and Delia on more than one occasion during summer training.
In a Chicago Tribune article, head coach Jeremy Colliton said of Lankinen, “He’s won a world championship as a starting goaltender. He played very well. He’s got a lot of confidence. He’s also very athletic.”
After accounting for experience, Delia and Subban are the top contenders to replace Crawford. Fans can expect the top spot to go to Delia, provided that opportunity even arises in the coming season. However, fans will likely see Lankinen’s impact ahead of that of Delia or Subban.
The two more experienced goaltenders likely have rougher adjustments ahead of them than Lankinen. Specifically, Delia chalked up a .932 save percentage only after a shaky adjustment in Rockford while Subban did not give his strongest showing in summer training.
However, GM Stan Bowman noted in the same article, “I don’t know that we’re going to make a determination and then anoint one person as ‘the guy’ and then he’s just the guy all year long. It’s OK to have both of these or all three to get opportunities to play.”
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