Staff Predictions for the Chicago Blackhawks 2020-21 season
By Jimmy Lynch
The Blackhawks starting goalie will be…
Malcolm Subban: Although, top goalie this season might just mean who gets 51% of the starts, rather than the player who is clearly the number one player. The team brought Subban with them to Edmonton, and the spot is likely his to lose.
With only 56 games, I’d expect to see Subban get the nod more often than not. Even if it’s an even split between two guys, that’s only 28 games per player. What’s more, Chicago will give starts to other goalies, which makes the ice time that much more limited. In the end, it’ll probably be Subban in the starter’s role.
Malcolm Subban: Subban actually has a winning record in the NHL. He is 30-23-0-7. Many of these wins came with Vegas where he had more defensive support, so he will have to improve to be successful in Chicago. He is still young at 27 and brings experience. Look for him to win the spot early.
I feel pretty confident that Subban will get the first look in net, but by the end of the season I think Delia asserts himself and takes over the net. His numbers might still be awful, but we know his mental game is strong and that’s one of the biggest assets to a starting goalie in the NHL. You have to be able to bounce back from a blown save or a bad night, and Delia showed his fortitude by coming back in a strong way after his slow start to the last AHL season following the birth of his child.
I’d almost like to see a rotating door of netminders this season so that all three get a decent look. However, if one goalie is going to rise above the others, I think it’ll be Malcolm Subban. Even with his limited games played, he still has the most NHL experience out of the trio and looks to be the goalie with the most potential to become a full-time starter. If he gets enough playing time, I think there is a good chance that Subban will become the Hawks number one, at least until Drew Commesso is ready for a look.
It’s no secret that the Blackhawks’ goaltending situation is far from figured out heading into the 2020-21 campaign. With Crawford walking, then ultimately deciding to retire, that left Chicago with Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban as the frontrunners for the position. With less than 100 games in the pros between them, it’s hard to be overly optimistic. However, in the small sample size, we’ve seen of Delia over the years, I’ve taken notice of his calm and confident presence. I think that will translate well and turn him into their undisputed starter.
So, this is a complete cop-out, but I do not think a particular goalie emerges as a number one this season. But gun to my head -feet to the coils, my answer would be Subban. His career thus far has been so-so. You have to dig deep into advanced statistics to find something positive. My lean is based on the fact that he’s been up in the NHL longer than the other guys. He has played 20 plus games the last three seasons as part of a successful team. I like what I’ve been hearing about his offseason work with his personal coaches as well as Blackhawks goalie instructor Jimmy Waite. I’m optimistic Subban, Delia and Lankinen will all show improvement, but I’d be pleasantly surprised if any of the three made the leap to solidify the position.
I expect Subban and Delia to split time near the start of the season, as they both have the most amount of NHL experience. However, I am going to surprise a lot of people and go with Kevin Lankinen ultimately winning the job as the year progresses. Lankinen is coming off of an AHL All-Star game appearance and is very excited to finally have a shot at being the #1 guy in Chicago. He has had very good numbers throughout his career no matter where he has played and looked pretty decent in the Blackhawks team scrimmage on Sunday night.
At only 25 years old, he is one year younger than Delia, and two years younger than Subban. I see many similarities between Lankinen and recent NHL retiree Corey Crawford. They both are the exact same height at 6’2, and the pair both spent a few seasons in the AHL prior to getting the opportunity to join the big club. Also, Crawford became the ‘Hawks starting netminder at 26 years old, and Lankinen will be 26 in late April. Who knows? If he can break out and perform well, the ‘Hawks may have a new starting goalie that can be relied upon for years to come.
Collin Delia is my pick to eventually win the Blackhawks net this season. There is no sugar coating it, the goalie situation the Blackhawks are in is less than ideal. Due to Delia’s performances for the Blackhawks in the past, and his good play in the minors, I can’t see how he does not start. Subban playing 10 minutes of one game last season does not help his case to start.
The best goalie available will start this coming season. I say that because I do not think it will be as simple as Delia Lankinen or Subban. This season is going to feature different goalies going on hot streaks throughout the year, and I think it could take 30 or so games before Chicago has a definitive starter. The Blackhawks will likely split time between their netminders similar to what they did last year with Crawford and Lehner.