Have the Blackhawks found their long-term solution between the pipes?
On Monday afternoon, Chicago announced that it had signed one of its top prospects, Drew Commesso, to a three-year, entry-level contract. The deal is a standard one, starting next year and running through the 2025-26 campaign.
The 20-year-old was selected in the second round of the 2020 NHL Draft, 46th overall. He went on to mind the net at Boston University for three seasons, where he just completed his junior season with a loss in the Frozen Four. This season for the Terriers, he went 24-8-0 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. Overall in his collegiate career, he boasts a .914 save percentage over 69 games. He also appeared for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in 2022, where he allowed one goal while achieving a .964 save percentage over two wins.
Commesso is a technically sound goaltender who owns the crease with confidence, playing angles and percentages with a high intelligence level. He’s got a good frame while being athletic enough to come out of position when needed, and he seems to be one of the most polished netminders in his class.
Wait, And Wait Some More
With only three games left in the 2022-23 season for the Blackhawks and the IceHogs fighting to keep a playoff spot for the Calder Cup, Commesso won’t get a chance to make his debut in the NHL or AHL this year. Additionally, any goalie would struggle on this Blackhawks team, and they don’t want to risk shaking his confidence before they can get solid defenders in front of him.
Next season, Commesso is expected to fight for a starting spot in Rockford with fellow prospect Jaxson Stauber, while the Chicago net will be occupied by some combination of Arvid Soderblom and Petr Mrazek. If he can beat out Stauber and become the primary goalie for the IceHogs, he’ll have a clear path to his NHL debut sooner rather than later.
Getting Some Help?
Luckily for Commesso and his fellow goaltending prospects, the Blackhawks’ defense seems to be coming out of a “dark age” of sorts. Behind Caleb and Seth Jones, they have flooded the other defensive lines with mostly young players with plenty of potential. Wyatt Kaiser, Andreas Englund, and Nikita Zaitsev were among those that were acquired at some point during this season. Even if some of those players depart this summer in free agency or via trades, general manager Kyle Davidson seems to be bolstering his defense slowly through his prospect pool, and will hopefully see his efforts come to fruition.
The Blackhawks appeared to see enough from Drew Commesso throughout his impressive season between the pipes in Boston and rewarded him with his long-awaited entry-level contract. Commesso comes into the Chicago system with high expectations, but at 20 years old, he has plenty of time to prove himself. Perhaps he can even become a staple in the net for Chicago as early as next season, and earn himself a much larger contract.