Chicago Blackhawks To Add Goaltender Lars Johansson
Reports have surfaced that the Chicago Blackhawks soon will be signing a free agent goaltender. The Blackhawks are rumored to be adding Swedish goalie Lars Johansson. Johansson, the reigning Swedish Hockey League Goalie of the Year, played for Frolunda this season. It was his third season with Frolunda. Before this campaign, he had appeared in 55 games in two seasons. His goals-against average decreased between his first two seasons from 2.03 to 2.01, while his save percentage went up from .911 to .915. While his numbers did improve, there was not a significant jump until this season.
In 37 games this season, he registered a 7-6 record with a save percentage of .927 and 1.74 goals-against average. He then followed up an impressive regular season with a great playoff run. Johansson had a .947 save percentage and 1.43 goals-against average in the postseason for Frolunda. This season’s numbers clearly got the attention of the Blackhawks.
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Reports state the Blackhawks would like to sign Johnasson to a two-way contract. With Corey Crawford firmly entrenched as the Blackhawks’ NHL starter, this signing might be more in the way of adding depth to the AHL roster. The Blackhawks organization only has Crawford and Scott Darling under contract in goal. Mac Carruth, who has most recently spent time with the Rockford IceHogs and Indy Fuel, is a restricted free agent this offseason.
The potential Johansson signing could also spell the end of Drew MacIntyre‘s time with the Blackhawks organization. MacIntyre was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes organization late last season. He appeared in eight regular-season games with the Rockford IceHogs, posting a 3.03 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.
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MacIntyre was added to the organization to fill in forMichael Leighton
, who was recalled as the emergency goalie for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The potential signing also could mean that Leighton will be back with the Rockford IceHogs next season. Leighton spent the last two seasons with the IceHogs, and he did appear in one game with the Blackhawks this season due to Crawford’s upper-body injury. Since the Blackhawks do not have an heir apparent to Crawford and are extremely thin at goalie, Leighton should be re-signed an insurance policy. My best guess would say that would be Leighton’s last go-round as Johnasson should be ready after one season in the AHL. Johnasson could be on a similar plan to Antti Raanta when he was with the Blackhawks organization.
With Johnasson to be signed, the Blackhawks can continue to focus another organizational weakness in defense. As stated in an earlier Blackhawk Up post, the Blackhawks have interest in Michal Kempny of the KHL. Kempny is expected to sign with an NHL team after the ongoing IIHF World Championships.