The Chicago Blackhawks have a clear need heading into Kyle Davidson’s first offseason as general manager, and he’s been clear that it’s a position he’s looking to address. Goaltending is a blank slate for the Blackhawks heading to next year; Chicago does not have a netminder with serious NHL experience on his resume under contract for next year.
While one of Kevin Lankinen/Collin Delia could be back, Davidson told the media that he wants to and intends to add a veteran to that position this summer. This nugget from Scott Powers at The Athletic on Tuesday is worth considering as the Blackhawks plan their depth chart in net next year:
“Multiple team sources have said to me they believe [Arvid] Söderblom is legit and has a bright future. One source thought Söderblom was the most polished all-around goalie to come through Rockford in recent years. Considering the Blackhawks have had some solid goalies come through Rockford, that carries some weight.”
So who could be on the table for Chicago between the pipes next season? They could look to trade for an upgrade/primary goaltender, or sign one as a free agent. Here are a few names to keep in mind as Davidson begins shopping.
Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers
This would a deal to bring a potential No. 1 for the next 2-3 years into the mix in Chicago. Georgiev, 26, is coming off a deal with a $2.425 million cap hit and is an RFA this summer, this him being a trade candidate and not a free agent consideration. However, the Rangers clearly have their primary netminder for the foreseeable future on the roster in Igor Shesterkin, and the increasing cap hits they have coming next year means a $3 million backup is likely a luxury they can’t/won’t afford.
Why this makes sense for Chicago: he’s young and he’s good, and the Blackhawks would be able to negotiate his contract if they can acquire his RFA rights. Partnering him with Arvid Söderblom could be a nice 1-2 punch for a team transitioning into a younger roster. And he might be around long enough to buy time for the next generation in Chicago.
Frederik Anderson, Hurricanes
Anderson, 32, has one year remaining on his contract with a $4.5 million cap hit. He was pretty good for the Canes this year; Anderson posted a .922 save percentage and 2.17 goals against average. But… that was on a team with a high-octane offense and a solid system in place. He was a polarizing netminder in his time with Anaheim and, especially, Toronto who was up and down a lot.
Why this makes sense for Chicago: the contract. He’s a serviceable netminder, but the emergence of Pyotr Kochetkov in these playoffs likely give Carolina pause when considering going into next year with both Anderson and Antti Raanta on the books; Raanta, a former Blackhawk, is set to make $2 million while Kochetkov is likely the future No. 1 netminder in Carolina and has a $842,500 cap hit. Chicago will look to rent, not buy, this offseason. And the Hawks might be able to take on that full cap hit and bring in asset(s) to help the rebuild.
Semyon Varlamov, Islanders
Varlamov has been incredible in the past… but the past might be just that. The rear view mirror is the better view of his career at this point, and the Isles are likely ready to transition to Ilya Sorokin as their full-time No. 1 goaltender. Sorokin has two years left on his deal at $4 million; Varlamov has a $5 million cap hit in 2022-23 and then hits UFA.
Why this makes sense for Chicago: as my good friend David Pagnotta at The Fourth Period pointed out in the wake of Barry Trotz getting canned by the Isles, the expectation is that they’ll look to move money off the books to make a bold play this summer (and I’m just throwing out there that Lou Lamoriello has inquired about Patrick Kane in the past). It’s hard to imagine Lou wants to keep $9 million committed to this position, and they aren’t moving Sorokin.
Casey DeSmith, Penguins
Pittsburgh is committed to Tristan Jarry for $3.5 million for one more year and DeSmith, 30, is a UFA this summer. He’s coming off a deal in which his cap hit was $1.25 million and he’s performed admirably while Jarry has been out.
Why this makes sense for Chicago: he could be looking to cash in on a nice playoff run with a multi-year deal, but wouldn’t command the same cap hits as some of the potential trade pieces listed above. He also has a lot to prove if he can get a No. 1 role for the first time in his career.
Thomas Greiss, Red Wings
The 36-year-old has spent most of his career in a tandem situation; he’s never started more than 51 games in a regular season. And he’s been a journeyman, having spent time with San Jose, Arizona, Pittsburgh, the Islanders and Detroit. Over 347 regular-season appearances, Greiss has a career .912 save percentage — which is adequate. He’s coming off a contract with a $3.6 million cap hit.
Why this makes sense for Chicago: this might be a situation where Greiss is looking for a final contract in the NHL. He’s been a solid mentor to Alex Nedeljkovic this season and could do the same for Söderblom in Chicago next year. He posted a sub-.900 save percentage this year so the next contract might be cheaper, and short-term.
Jack Campbell, Maple Leafs
This would be a true lottery ticket. Campbell was the 11th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and has had some dazzling moments in his career. He’s also moved around a lot for a guy who was expected to be a stud. This was a dead year for Campbell in Toronto because of injuries; he appeared in four games. But he had a .914 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average with the Leafs in 49 games last year.
Why this makes sense for Chicago: a potential low risk/high reward deal is the kind of swing-for-the-fences move that a rebuild could benefit from in the coming season(s). If it works, he’s a solid piece who, at 30 entering the coming season, may prove a valuable trade asset with the right contract. If it doesn’t work… add it to the list of players who struggled in Chicago.