The Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday moved one of their backup/occasional starting goalies from the 2017-18 campaign, saying goodbye to Jean-Francois Berube after a short stint
Berube was one of six different goalies to take the ice for the Blackhawks last season. While Corey Crawford was injured, he started 10 times in an attempt to take the backup job behind him.
Berube went 3-6-1 through 13 total games played and put up a miserable 3.78 goals against average and a .894 save percentage.
Like the other candidates for the No. 2 job in Chicago, Berube didn’t impress (though Blackhawk legend Scott Foster certainly did), and he ultimately played his way out of the job.
In return, the Blackhawks are receiving center Schroeder, drafted by the Vancouver Canucks 22nd overall in 2009. Schroeder has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL since he entered the league in 2009-10.
He lit it up in college for the University of Minnesota, his best season being a 45-point campaign on 13 goals and 32 assists through 35 games.
Since entering the NHL, Schroeder broke double digits in points just one time (13 in 2016-17 with the Minnesota Wild). Last season he totaled a measly two points on a goal and an assist in 21 games with the Blue Jackets. Schroeder is a career 46.3 percent faceoff winner.
What does it mean?
The Blackhawks, who struggled heavily during Crawford’s absence, lose a goalie in exchange for a player who can potentially add depth at the center position. Schroeder will probably float between the ‘Hawks and their AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs. While this doesn’t sound great, stay with me.
This trade was never about Schroeder. Rather, it’s about freeing up a roster spot for a goaltender come July 1, when free agency officially opens.
It’s no secret the Blackhawks need help in goal. Crawford, who hasn’t played since Dec. 23, remains largely a question mark heading into next season.
This report, courtesy of Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, is undoubtedly encouraging. However, there’s no certainty whatsoever in Q’s answer.
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Even if Crawford is able to start the season as the organization claims, the ‘Hawks need more certainty in their No. 2 spot. In years past, the Blackhawks have been lucky to have fantastic backup goaltenders able to step in effectively at a moment’s notice. Whether it was Crawford’s night off or he’s was out battling an injury over a couple games, these guys came through.
Guys like Ray Emery, Scott Darling and Antti Raanta have all stepped up when the ‘Hawks needed them. Darling and Raanta played so well behind Crawford that they went ahead and earned themselves starting jobs on other teams.
The same cannot be said for the guys who took the net this season. The Blackhawks, and the defense especially, played noticeably different in front of Berube, Anton Forsberg and Collin Delia this season. It hurt them tremendously.
With Crawford out, the organization simply does not have another reliable goaltender at the moment. It’s quite possibly the most glaring hole in their roster.
As a result, general manager Stan Bowman is trying to change that. He’s been shopping around the goalie market, and it appears Jonathan Bernier and Cam Ward are the two best candidates for the position.
670 The Score’s Jay Zawaski reported today that the Blackhawks may already have a deal in place with Carolina’s Ward.
Our own Colin Likas breaks down the significance of this and what it means for the fans further here.
The potential Cam Ward deal
The Berube/Schroeder trade gives the Blackhawks room to execute a deal with Ward, which could be finalized come July 1.
Ward is an experienced goalie, winning the Stanley Cup his rookie season and playing a total of 668 games (568 starts) over 13 NHL seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. Though Ward isn’t necessarily a tremendous upgrade over the Blackhawks’ current situation in net, he’s a veteran with experience who comes at a smaller price than other potential targets like Bernier and Carter Hutton would.
Bowman prepared for the future of the organization well over the course of the NHL draft. He chose to stay quiet throughout it and didn’t make any major shakeups. His focus was on preparing for the future, and in turn he made picks which will help the Blackhawks for years to come, notably the pick of Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist (story).
Da Windy City
However, he still has the current Blackhawks to worry about. As we all know, this team is not getting any younger. The window on another Stanley Cup run is closing, but it doesn’t need to be shut.
A move for Ward confirms that.
If Zawaski’s report is correct, the Ward signing would leave the Blackhawks room to make a larger splash in free agency (especially if they end up moving Marian Hossa‘s contract as well). With a healthy Crawford and a solidified backup, this team has the potential to be a playoff team next April.
The Blackhawks gave up the eighth-most goals against and ranked 21st in goals for. I’m not an statistics expert by any means, but it seems hard to win when you’re giving up a lot of goals and not scoring very many of them.
If the ‘Hawks do make a move for Ward, it leaves Bowman room to make a signing which can help to improve the holes at defense. It also opens up the opportunity for more cash to be available to be put towards a forward with proven scoring ability (potentially James van Riemsdyk).
The waiting game
Until we see what Bowman decides to do, the fate of the Blackhawks next season is largely up in the air. For all we know, the Ward deal may fall through and we may see another move made once free agency opens up.
Hossa could be moved tomorrow. Van Riemsdyk could be brought in. The possibilities are limitless. After all, we’re talking about the guy who traded Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson in the same day.
Regardless of what Bowman does, the consensus seems to be that he cannot do nothing. Here’s to hoping we see something.