Tuesday night’s loss presented a potential worst-case scenario for the Blackhawks. It wasn’t the 3-1 final score that created the problem. It was the injury suffered by goaltender Alex Stalock.
As I outlined in the response to the Stalock injury, Arvid Söderblom is the only healthy goaltender under contract with the Blackhawks right now. I’m totally on board with him getting more run at the NHL level; I believe he’s ready and the best goaltender in the organization. But… you need two netminders on your roster and the Hawks don’t have two healthy bodies to choose from.
Enter Dylan Wells.
Wells, 24, is skating with the IceHogs on an AHL contract. He was a fifth-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in 2016 and his rights were traded to Carolina for future considerations (my favorite prospect) in 2021.
On Wednesday morning the Blackhawks signed Wells to a two-way NHL contract to back up Söderblom until Petr Mrazek or Stalock is healthy enough to re-join the team.
That would give the Blackhawks a somewhat more comfortable five goaltenders under contract across the organization.
The Blackhawks’ goaltending situation was a ticking time bomb from the jump when Kyle Davidson committed his two NHL roster spots to Mrazek and Stalock, both of whom have long injury histories. The groin issue Mrazek is dealing with was a problem for him in the past; we couldn’t have predicted Stalock’s concussion suffered in an ugly, illegal play on Tuesday night, however.
That’s why I predicted Söderblom would lead the Blackhawks in wins before the campaign began.
This isn’t a deal breaker for the Blackhawks. They have plenty of cap space and available contract spots, so they won’t have to trade anyone away or dump money to make it work.