There are several names out there in free agency to choose from. All have reasons to be in free agency, but they still represent an upgrade to the Blackhawks goalie room.
Frederik Anderson: A solid performer in Toronto for 268 games, he gets a lot of the blame from the Toronto fan base for their lack of playoff success. He has not been above 3.00 GAA until this season, and has consistently posted a solid save percentage (.909 or better until a drop this season). At 31, I view him a lot like Holtby, where he should have gas in the tank, and could rebound with a change of scenery. Probably will get close to the $5M annually he had on his last deal in Toronto, but will come in below that number in my opinion.
James Reimer/Petr Mrazek: Carolina is going with Alex Nedeljkovic in goal, and both Reimer and Mrazek are UFAs this offseason. Both are steady, solid veteran goalies. Neither will set the world on fire, but they can both play in a platoon, or take over for stretches due to injury. Mrazek is 29, Reimer 33. I don’t see either as an expensive option (likely under $3.5M per for either), but both could be upgrades to the goalie room.
Philipp Grubauer: Colorado and Grubauer are reported to be far apart in negotiations for a new deal, which means he will hit the market next week. After a sterling performance this season (1.95 GAA, .922 save percentage in 40 starts), I am sure he feels he deserves a raise from the $3.33M annually he has been earning. Colorado has lots of mouths to feed, but with only Pavel Francouz under contract for next season, they will likely find a compromise around $5.5M for the 29 year-old. If not, could be a solid addition for the ‘Hawks
Linus Ullmark: I am including Ullmark because I believe that a change of scenery is just what this young goalie needs to realize his full potential. Playing for a struggling Sabres team, he has put up solid numbers, improving on his GAA and save percentage each season. At 27, he still has room to get better, and with a move out of Buffalo, he could realize that. He should be in the $3.5-4M range, after making $2.6M this past season.
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If you’re comfortable with Subban and/or Delia backing up Lankinen next season, the Hawks will have more resources to improve the team in front of them. But if you want to see Lankinen as a 1B to a more experienced goalie for a year, any of these options are a possibility, by trade or through free agency. Once Stan gets through the draft this weekend, the real work begins.