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All Time Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks’ Best College Free Agent Of All Time: Ed Belfour

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CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Former Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour is honored during their 'One More Shift' campaign prior to the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars at the United Center on March 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Former Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour is honored during their 'One More Shift' campaign prior to the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars at the United Center on March 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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A Hall of Fame goaltender came to the Chicago Blackhawks by way of college free agency, something that is commonplace today

With all of the NHL focused on college free agents, I thought it would be good to look at the greatest college free agent in Chicago Blackhawks history. That player is Ed Belfour.

Belfour played for Winkler Flyers from 1983-84 in juniors for before joining the University of North Dakota. “Eddie the Eagle” played college hockey from 1986-87. At the University of North Dakota, Belfour helped his team win the NCAA national championship. It was the school’s third national title in eight seasons.

Belfour was named a WCHA first-team All-Star in 1986-87. He went 29-4 that season. His slashline was .915/2.43 in 33 appearances.

In 1987-88, he signed a free agent contract with the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks sent Belfour to their minor league affiliate, the Saginaw Hawks of the IHL. He spent his first season of professional hockey in the IHL. He was recalled for the Blackhawks for 23 games in 1988-89. Belfour was 4-12-3 with a .877/3.87 slashline. It was no surprise he did not start the the 1989-90 season with the ’Hawks.

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Belfour decided to play for the Canadian national team for 33 games before being recalled by the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks recalled him during the playoffs. He was 4-2 with .915/2.49 slashline.

After those playoffs, Belfour never looked back as the Blackhawks’ starter. He won the Calder Trophy in 1990-91 and the Vezina Trophy in his first full season as starter. He would win a second Vezina trophy after the 1992-93 season. Belfour would lead the Blackhawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final, only to be swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins featured Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

He appeared in 401 games with the ‘Hawks. He went 201-138-56 with a .903/2.65 career slashline. Belfour was traded during the 1996-97 season to the San Jose Sharks. Belfour would go on to to win the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999.

For his career, he appeared in 963 NHL games. He went 484-320-125 for his career. His slashline was .906/2.25.

Blackhawks found a diamond

The Blackhawks got lucky with signing Belfour as a college free agent. Let’s see how lucky the ’Hawks were with the move.

To put it in perspective, there were 26 goalies selected in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Twelve of the goalies selected played in the NHL. The Blackhawks selected current goalies coach Jimmy Waite eighth in the 1987 draft. He only appeared in 106 NHL games. His Blackhawks stats were 58 games, a 14-23-7 record and a .861/3.64 slashline.

Beflour’s replacement in Chicago was also drafted in 1987. Jeff Hackett was drafted by the New York Islanders with the 34th pick. Hackett came to the ’Hawks in 1993.

Next: Blackhawks' College Free Agent Successes, Failures

He appeared in 173 games during his ’Hawks tenure from 1993-99. He was 63-75-25 with a .913/2.45 slashline with the ’Hawks. Hackett also played the most games in the NHL for a goalie drafted in 1987. He appeared in 500 NHL games during his career.

Let this sink in: The Blackhawks got a Hall of Fame goalie when he was a college free agent.

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