After letting Corey Crawford leave in free agency, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to find a new starting goalie. Their options right now are Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen. Of the three which one is their best option?
The Case For Malcolm Subban
The odds on favorite to be the starting goalie for the Blackhawks in 2020-21 is Malcolm Subban. Subban was re-signed to a two-year deal just a few weeks ago, with his average annual value being $850,000.
Last season, Subban held a 9-7-3 record with the Golden Knights before being traded to the Blackhawks. The 26-year-old has a 2.97 career goals-against average, with 30 wins in 66-games. Though Subban hasn’t had much success in the NHL, he hasn’t been given a real chance to be a starter in this league.
Another key factor is, he’s only 26. He still hasn’t played his best hockey yet. For example, in 2011, Corey Crawford took the reins as a starting goalie for the Blackhawks at 26. Subban is in that same spot this season if he becomes their starter.
The good news is, Subban is young. The Blackhawks are in rebuild mode, so Subban would have some time to fit into his role. He isn’t going to be asked a lot, as he is likely a bridge goalie.
The case for Subban is simple, he has the most experience of the three goalies. Subban hasn’t been an elite player in his short career but he hasn’t been a terrible goalie. He is just enough to keep the Blackhawks in games and is a solid bridge goalie until the team finds their true number one. If they’re rebuilding, they won’t be asking much out of Subban, to begin with. It’s their easy choice.
The Case For Collin Delia
Collin Delia returning to the Blackhawks next season is something that could be crucial. At one point, he was looked at as the future of the Blackhawks – the guy who would take over after Crawford. Now, he has his chance to win the starting job and prove he can be a starter in the NHL.
The last time fans saw Delia in the NHL, he was 24 and wasn’t even supposed to be playing. He was forced up to the NHL in back-to-back seasons to backup Anton Forsberg and then Cam Ward due to injuries to Crawford.
In 18-games, Delia has a record of 7-5-3, with a .906 save percentage and a 3.65 GAA. Though those numbers aren’t solid, Delia was 24. He wasn’t ready to play in the NHL. In 2020-21, he has to be ready to play.
The case for Delia is this, he wasn’t given a real chance in the NHL. If Delia is given a real chance, this time around he will be more prepared. He has been groomed to be the goalie to fill Crawford’s skates, now, he has that chance.
At 26, it’s time for Delia to take that leap to the NHL. If he can make that transition successful, the team might have a solid goalie for years to come. If he can’t, he might never be an NHL goalie.
The Case For Kevin Lankinen
Kevin Lankinen is the unknown of the three potential goalies on the Blackhawks roster next season. Lankinen hasn’t played a single game in the NHL, playing in both the ECHL and AHL during the last two seasons.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much success from Lankinen in either league, as he holds a 19-24-3 record in the last two seasons between the two leagues. That lack of success doesn’t mean he can’t find success with the Blackhawks this upcoming season.
Here’s what Stan Bowman had to say about both Lankinen and Delia.
“We’ve got a couple young guys here in (Kevin) Lankinen and (Collin) Delia who we haven’t given a really big opportunity to, but with where we’re headed… and the NHL is relying more and more on young players, we’re going to embrace that moving forward.”
Not only does that show Bowman is truly committed to building around a new young core, but it also shows that there could be a chance for Lankinen to get a few starts next season.
The case for Lankinen is, he’s never been given a chance to play in the NHL. We have no idea what we’re getting with him. They’re playing with house money when it comes to playing Lankinen. If he does well – great, they might have a future with him. If he doesn’t do well, he’ll be sent back down to Rockford to be their starting goalie.
Giving Lankinen some time in the NHL is big for his development, especially if he’s expected to be an NHL goalie in the near future. Either way, he’s the least likely of the three to be the starting goalie. He’ll likely be the starting goalie for the IceHogs when the 2020-21 AHL season begins.