Entering the 2021 NHL season, the Chicago Blackhawks did not have a bonafide starting goalie. However, an unknown goalie has risen to the top of the depth chart and has been the Blackhawks savior so far this season. His name is Kevin Lankinen. So far, he has been very good and it seems like the Blackhawks might have found a goaltender that can help turn the franchise around.
Surpassing the Competition
To start the season, Lankinen was third on the Blackhawks depth chart behind Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia. Each goalie got a chance at the beginning of the season to prove that they should be the starting goalie and none of them seized the opportunity right away. The goaltenders all struggled quite a bit and it led to some questions over whether any of the current goalies would have a future in Chicago.
To start the season, Malcolm Subban was the first of the Blackhawks goalies to try their hand in becoming the starting goalie. He allowed five goals on 33 shots in a loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then Subban has gotten into only three more games as he has moved into more of a backup role. On the season Subban has played his way to a 2.65 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. These are respectable numbers and Subban should continue serving as the backup goalie for the Blackhawks.
The other Blackhawks goalie that has been surpassed by Kevin Lankinen is Collin Delia. In his third season with the Blackhawks organization, Delia has only played two games. In his two appearances, he has allowed 10 goals and has earned a goals-against-average of 5.00 and a .863 save percentage. Those stats are not good and he has been reverted to the third-string goalie.
Back to the star of the Blackhawks goalie situation, Kevin Lankinen has excelled so far this season. He did start with a rough first game in which he allowed five goals on 30 shots against the Florida Panthers. Since then, he has played 11 more games and has been very good. On the season he has 7-2-3 record including a shutout against the Detriot Red Wings on February 17th. In those twelve games, Kevin Lankinen has earned a 2.29 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.
Will Kevin Lankinen Be the Future?
As Lankinen has shown so far he is certainly capable of being a starting goaltender in the NHL. He has helped lead the Blackhawks to be tied for first place in the central division.
The 25-year-old Finnish goaltender has earned the right to be the starting goalie of the Blackhawks. If Kevin Lankinen continues to play as well as he is right now he should continue to be the starting goalie of the Chicago Blackhawks for the rest of this season and for the next few seasons. Now with that being said the Blackhawks should look to either draft or sign another goalie that could help create one solid goaltending tandem with Kevin Lankinen.
Possible Options for the Blackhawks To Pair With Kevin Lankinen
The options for the Blackhawks to find a suitable partner for Kevin Lankinen will be either drafting a goalie or signing one in free agency. There are two suitable options for the Blackhawks in the draft. Their names are Jesper Wallstedt and Sebastian Cossa.
Wallstedt is a Swedish goaltender that is currently playing for Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League. So far he has played in 20 games and has been amazing. During those 20 games, he has a 1.97 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. He also participated in the 2021 World Juniors championship for team Sweden. In two games for team Sweden, he had a 2.40 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
Cossa is the other goalie that the Blackhawks should think about drafting. Cossa isn’t as highly rated as Wallstedt, but the 6’6″ goalie also shows promise. Currently, Cossa is playing with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. The WHL is not playing the 2021 season so unfortunately, he is not playing this year. During the 2020 season as a 17-year-old Cossa was fantastic. He played 33 games for the Oil Kings and had a 2.23 goals-against and .921 save percentage. Both Cossa or Wallstedt will take a few development years before they are ready for NHL action but when they eventually reach the NHL, they would create quite the tandem with Kevin Lankinen.
Free Agency Options
In free agency, the Blackhawks could look to bring in a veteran presence to help share the load with Kevin Lankinen. Some options could be David Rittich or Antti Raanta. Both goalies should be comfortable being backup goalies as they both are the backup goalie on their current teams.
David Rittich is currently playing for the Calgary Flames. He has played three games so far in the 2021 season. He has not had the best start to the season as he has a goals-against average above three and a save percentage under .900. Although he is having a poor season, he has proven in the past that he can be a really good goalie as he has compiled four straight seasons of a goals-against average at or below three and a save percentage equal to or above .900. A duo of Kevin Lankinen and David Rittich looks really good and should be something the Blackhawks should think about.
Antti Raanta is another free agent the Blackhawks should look into. Raanta actually started his career with Chicago. His time with the franchise helped him earned his lucrative contract which he is currently playing on.
A return to the windy city would do wonderous for the Blackhawks as it would create a formidable tandem in net. This season with the Arizona Coyotes Raanta has played three games racking up two wins. He played his way to a .902 save percentage and a 3.63 goals-against average. A reunion between the Blackhawks and Raanta would be amazing for both parties. It seems like many goalies from Finland find success with Chicago so the Blackhawks can’t go wrong having two Finnish goalies man the crease for them.
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