Here at Bleacher Nation Blackhawks, we’re kind of the new kid in town. And with that mindset, we understand that some of our readers might be new, or returning, to the team. Wherever you land, we want to give you an introduction to the players that will make up the 2021 Blackhawks roster and what we’re looking forward to, or not looking forward to, in the upcoming season.
#30 Malcolm Subban
• Career NHL Stats: 66 games, 30-23-7, .899 Save %, 2.97 GAA (Vegas, Boston, Chicago)
• Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $850,000 AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
• Synopsis: Subban was part of the return from the Robin Lehner trade last February. A backup for his entire NHL career, his stats at the NHL and AHL level have diminished over the past three seasons. After arriving in Chicago, he played all of 1:10 minutes for the Blackhawks last season.
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) January 11, 2021
#60 Collin Delia
• Career NHL Stats: 18 games, 7-5-3, .906 Save %, 3.65 GAA (2017-18, 2018-19 with Chicago)
• Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $1M AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
• Synopsis: Was supposed to be the backup to Corey Crawford last season, but then Chicago signed Lehner. Proven success at the AHL level with the Rockford IceHogs. Two-time IceHogs Man of the Year. Recently became a Dad.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) January 11, 2021
#32 Kevin Lankinen
• Career AHL Stats: 40 games, 15-18-6, .909 Save %, 2.77 GAA (2018-19, 2019-20 with Rockford IceHogs)
• Contract: Signed through 2021-22, $800,000 AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration (waivers exempt)
• Synopsis: Has yet to make his NHL debut, but received a couple call-ups to the Blackhawks last season. Streaky at the AHL level. Helped Finland win a World Championships Gold Medal in 2019.
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) May 26, 2020
#90 Matt Tomkins
• Career AHL Stats: 21 games, 6-11-3, .887 Save %, 3.46 GAA (2017-18, 2019-20 with Rockford IceHogs)
• Contract: Signed through 2020-21, $700,000 AAV, Unrestricted free agent upon expiration
• Synopsis: Has bounced between the AHL and ECHL with the Blackhawks organization since leaving Ohio State in 2017. Won’t factor into the NHL goalie picture for the Blackhawks unless there are injury issues (knock on wood).
#31 Cale Morris
• Career NCAA Stats: 106 games, 58-28-18, .931 Save %, 2.18 GAA (2016-2020 with Notre Dame)
• Synopsis: Signed to an AHL contract with IceHogs. Helped Notre Dame to appearances in the NCAA “Frozen Four” in 2017 and 2018. Two-time Big Ten Tournament MVP, 2017-18 Big Ten Goalie and Player of the Year. Might turn into a successful project for the Blackhawks down the road.
Newly-signed goalie, Cale Morris had a really really really good college career with Notre Dame. Welcome to the club, kid. pic.twitter.com/Nnb3L1zdNV
— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) October 21, 2020
What to Watch for:
The goaltender battle has been a focal point for the Blackhawks ever since they announced Corey Crawford would not be returning to the team over the offseason. After trading Robin Lehner and letting Crawford walk, the Blackhawks were pinning much, if not all, of their hopes for a successful season on unproven goalies Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen. While it’s likely going to be a tandem of Subban and Delia for the majority of the season, none of the three have jumped out in front of the others as the go-to option to be the Blackhawks’ starter. Jeremy Colliton has mentioned that he will likely use the first handful of games to see who does that that step ahead.
We Really Like:
Both Subban and Delia have NHL experience. Both have shown they can be successful and effective goalies. If there’s a similar situation to point towards to give Blackhawks fans hope, it’s what happened with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season. They had lost Sergei Bobrovsky, and were trying to fill his spot with Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo. The two newcomers played phenomenally, combining for a 2.48 GAA and a team .917 save percentage in the regular season. Fingers crossed that the Blackhawks new tandem can replicate that same success.
We Might Be Worried About:
Having to cross our fingers that two unproven NHL goalies can replicate such an anomaly of a performance as Merzlikins and Korpisalo’s. Subban has regressed in each of the last three seasons as an NHL backup. Delia hasn’t played in an NHL game since his 14-game run with the Blackhawks in 2018-19. Add in the fact that the Blackhawks have allowed the most shots on goal of any team in the league over the last two seasons, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
I’m getting the sense that Subban will start the first game of the year against the Lightning. Beyond that, I’m sticking with my prediction that Delia will end up playing the most games in net for Chicago. At the end of the day, if the tandem can combine to be league-average (roughly a .910 save percentage and a 2.76 GAA based on 2019-2020), consider that a success for this Blackhawks team.