The Florida Panthers could be a perfect trading partner if the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to unload a goaltender. Of both starters, Corey Crawford would likely be the one traded.
As it stands for the Chicago Blackhawks, both Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner are on the final years of their respective contracts. The Blackhawks are unlikely to resign both of them. Chances are, they’ll keep one of them and bring up a goalie from Rockford to backup Crawford or Lehner.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are playing well in most aspects of the game. Their exception is goaltending. Between the two goalies on their team, they hold a .898% save percentage. For example, the league’s average is .904%. Me putting it lightly would be saying they struggle to keep the puck out of their own net.
The Panthers are ranked 22nd in goals against in the NHL. Their goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is in the first year of his seven-year, $70,000,000 contract. I know the Blue Jackets, his old team, were the better team during his time there, but he’s taken a big dip in success.
Bobrovsky has a .898% save percentage. Last season, he a .913% save percentage, and a playoff sweep against the Lightning. The Panthers are a team on the bubble of making the playoffs. Maybe Joel Quenneville could look at his old team, the Blackhawks, for a one-year rental in net.
Crawford had an incredible career under Quenneville. He has been playing well as of late too. The downside is, he has a losing record over the last two seasons. At 35, he isn’t going to get any better. His time in Chicago must-likely will be coming to an end during the offseason.
It would benefit the Blackhawks to trade him and get a draft pick out of it. The Panthers would be the perfect fit. Crawford will be a serviceable backup if he doesn’t retire after the season. He could do good things for the Panthers.
Lehner is younger, better, and has more demand. He already said he won’t be taking a “hometown discount” to stay in Chicago. That could make teams not want to trade for him. Lehner would do well in the playoffs for a team on the bubble. There is just no guarantee he’d be back in 2021.
It just makes sense for the Blackhawks to keep Lehner. They need to re-sign him as fast as possible. They could get him cheaper now than if they were to go deep in the playoffs.
If the Blackhawks do trade either goalie, they have to look at solid prospects. It could be unrealistic but taking a look at Riley Stillman, Aleksi Heponiemi, Serron Noel or Owen Tippett, would benefit the Blackhawks.
Stillman is unlikely to leave the Panthers though. He has played well on the blue line during his 15 career games. The three forward prospects, on the other hand, have a big upside. It’s just hard to tell what it would take for the Panthers to part ways with any of them.
Either way, their lack of success in net makes them a good option for Chicago to target. If the season ended today, the Panthers would be in the playoffs. Adding Crawford could help them keep that playoff spot.