Do the Blackhawks have a No. 1 goalie in Kevin Lankinen?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Do the Blackhawks have a No. 1 goalie in Kevin Lankinen? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

One of the biggest storylines going into training camp was which goaltender would take control of the No. 1 job after the Blackhawks parted ways in the offseason with two-time Stanley Cup champion Corey Crawford.

The competition centered around three netminders: Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Malcolm Subban. Of that group, only Delia (16 starts) and Subban (60 starts) had NHL experience.

And yet it was Lankinen who emerged as the go-to guy after he started in 37 of the 56 games and went 17-14-5 with a 3.01 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and two shutouts.

Now the question is: Have the Blackhawks found their starting goaltender of the future in Lankinen? The short answer: maybe. But it's too early to make any such declarations, given the sample size.

"Kevin had the longest run of the three during the season," President/GM Stan Bowman said. "I think he emerged as the guy who stepped forward, but I think they all had their moments. ... I remember saying early on that we don’t know at this point which player’s going to emerge or if one or two of them will. Kevin probably took the biggest step forward, but I don’t think any took a step backward. It was great to see Kevin take that."

Lankinen got off to a terrific start after going 9-3-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in his first 15 games. His play started to dip when the schedule got tougher in March and the Blackhawks rode him hard in hopes of making a playoff push.

Those experiences will be important learning lessons for the young goaltender moving forward as he looks to solidify himself as a bonafide No. 1 goaltender.

"It's been a crazy season all-in-all," Lankinen said. "I really enjoyed it, though. Lots of learning lessons, lots of great experiences and great moments. I was able to show myself and everybody else what I could do."

The Blackhawks have four goaltenders under contract next season: Delia, Lankinen, Subban and newly signed Arvid Soderblom. As of now, it looks like those four guys will be the ones fighting for the crease at training camp again.

If the Blackhawks are sold on Lankinen as their potential No. 1 starter, it would make sense for them to explore signing a veteran goaltender in the offseason to help him navigate the ups and downs of an 82-game season, both physically and mentally. If they feel the jury is still out, well then we might just see the competition from this season carry into the next.

"I feel like I had a good season," Lankinen said after his final start of the season. "What comes next season, that's not up to me yet. I haven't thought about it. My goal was just to win tonight, and we'll see what happens in the future."

"He has had a successful year as far as where he started and where he’s ending," head coach Jeremy Colliton echoed. "But it should be just a stepping stone, at least that’s how I hope he looks at it. He’s got to do everything he can to improve, work on his game, train hard and come in and earn more. So, those things, they’ll be sorted out by performance."

Click here to subscribe to the Blackhawks Talk Podcast for free.

Download

Download MyTeams Today!