As it stands, the Chicago Blackhawks have four goaltenders on NHL contracts for the 2021-22 season, but just one with an NHL contract for the 2022-23 season (Arvid Söderblom). Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Marc-Andre Fleury are set to play for Chicago this season, with Söderblom and Cale Morris likely headed to the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. Fleury will be the starter with Lankinen backing him up, and given the salary cap situation with Chicago adding Fleury, it’s possible we see one of Delia or Subban traded, with the other headed to the AHL.
That’s all to be figured out in the coming months as the Blackhawks prepare for the 2021-22 season.
One goaltender who is not going to be part of the Blackhawks’ short-term future, but looks to be in the plans long-term, is 2020 second-round draft pick Drew Commesso. Currently wrapping up the World Junior Summer Showcase in Michigan this past week with Team USA, Commesso has been one of the more outstanding goaltender at the showcase.
I asked Chris Peters from Hockey Sense, who was in attendance at the showcase this past week, what he thought about Commesso’s performance:
Drew had a strong camp. He didn’t have the best last game, but his camp as a whole was strong. He’s going to be the No. 1 goalie for this team (USA) at the World Junior Championships. He had his timing and everything which is good to see since he had a limited year. Looking forward to seeing him in a full season.
Commesso made five appearances with Team USA Blue (they were split into two squads, blue and white) and played the most minutes in net during the showcase of any goaltender with 251:22 minutes. No other goaltenders surpassed 200 minutes. He finished with a .913 save-percentage and a 2.39 GAA during his five appearances.
For the past two years, the Blackhawks fan community has been clamoring for the organization to find their next franchise goaltender. They had the chance to sign Robin Lehner for a long-term deal, then didn’t. They lost Corey Crawford and then he retired. They had a chance to trade up and draft Yaroslav Askarov last year, then they didn’t. They were in prime position to draft Sebastian Cossa or Jesper Wallstedt this year, but had traded their pick away.
With Fleury coming to the Blackhawks for one season, the band-aid to get to the next franchise goaltender in Chicago is short. And while Lankinen was great as a rookie last season, there’s not much to say that he is the future of the position for the Blackhawks. Lankinen seems like the short-term fix before the Blackhawks ultimately hand the reigns to Commesso as the long-term plan at goaltender.
Getting a chance to watch Blackhawks goalie prospect Drew Commesso and defenseman Alex Vlasic in a full game online today. Commesso looks like he has a lot of structure in his game. He's made a few made impressive glove saves, including this one. pic.twitter.com/4wFBaOaQxt
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) March 14, 2021
Commesso is headed back to Boston University this year after being named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team last season as a Freshman. He’ll be the starter for the Terriers after going 6-3-1, with a .915 save-percentage and a 2.99 GAA during the shortened 2021 season. He’ll likely be the top goaltender for the United States at the World Junior Championships this winter after missing the tournament last year due to COVID precautions. While he may not be the headline-grabbing top goaltending prospect that Chicago fans may have been hoping for, Commesso looks primed to be the next in line to backstop the Blackhawks.