The Blackhawks are seemingly going to have their center of the future in Connor Bedard, but they still need to add some forwards in the coming drafts. The defensive pool is starting to look good already, but will also benefit from further additions. This leaves the question of who is going to be in net for the next era?
The Hawks have not had a consistent starting goalie since they opted not to resign Corey Crawford in 2020. After dealing with lasting concussion issues over the previous few years, he was still able to provide the hawks with one last series win over Edmonton in the 2020 bubble playoffs. However, the organization decided to move on in the offseason and he would sign with New Jersey, but retired before ever playing a game.
Over the last few years, the Blackhawks have had a number of starting goalies, including Kevin Lankinen, Robin Lehner, Collin Delia, Marc-André Fleury, and this year Petr Mrázek. I don't think these players were brought in with the intention to become the next starting goalie of the future, and they were mostly considered placeholders. While I personally loved Robin Lehner and Fleury, neither of them made sense for the timeline of this team, so their departure was expected.
So... who is potentially next in line for the starting job of the future? The Hawks currently have a few goalies in their system that could potentially make that jump one day.
1. Drew Commesso - 20 years old
Commesso was selected #46 overall in the second round of the 2020 NHL Draft by the Blackhawks. He most recently played at Boston University and has participated in his fair share of international competitions as well. The Rockford IceHogs shared these stats by Commesso in his most recent season at Boston University:
"Commesso, 20, served as an alternate captain and appeared in 34 games with Boston University (Hockey East) during the 2022-23 season, recording a 24-8-0 record, 2.46 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and two shutouts. He set career bests in wins, goals-against average and shutouts. In addition, his 24 wins ranked fourth among all NCAA netminders."- OFFICIAL SITE OF THE ROCKFORD ICEHOGS
You can visit their page at https://icehogs.com.
Commesso signed a deal with the Blackhawks in April and is most likely going to be part of the IceHogs going forward. It is worth noting that he also competed in the 2022 Winter Olympics and was the youngest starting goalie to ever play for the United States, earning a shutout in his first game. While still young, it is clear that Commesso has a lot of potential and he is most likely going to be the prime candidate to become the #1 goalie for the franchise in the coming years.
2. Arvid Söderblom - 23 years old
Söderblom was signed by the Blackhawks in 2021 as a free agent, he is from Sweden and primarily played in the Swedish Hockey League before being signed by Chicago. Söderblom has been the starting goalie for the IceHogs since the 2021-2022 season and is expected to be their main guy in the coming season as well.
Per Elite Hockey Prospects, Söderblom's 2022-2023 stats: 33 GP / 2.92 GAA / .905 SV% / 15-12-5. He also led the team to the playoffs, boasting a record of 2-3 before getting eliminated by the Texas Stars.
Söderblom also has had a couple of brief stints playing for the Blackhawks this year. Unfortunately, he owns a record of 2-10-2 in 15 games played this season according to Elite Hockey Prospects.
These stats shouldn't be too reflective of his actual talent or potential, he was playing for a rebuilding Blackhawks team and was not exactly set up for success. Regardless, it is good that he got the experience, and hopefully it will benefit him when the Hawks give him more chances going forward.
Considering he is older than Commesso and already has two seasons in the AHL (as well as limited experience with the Hawks), he will most likely be the next goalie for this team to make the jump into the NHL full time. We should most likely expect to see this in the next few seasons. Hopefully we will get an idea as to what the Hawks have in Söderblom and if he can be the guy going forward.
3. Jaxson Stauber - 24 years old
Stauber played two years at Providence College from 2020 to 2022 and had a combined record of 32-21-7. He was signed by the Hawks in 2022 and primarily played some games for Rockford. He also had a brief stint in the NHL, posting a .911 SV% in 6 games, going an impressive 5-1 in that span per Elite Hockey Prospects.
While Stauber is most likely not seen as the frontrunner for the starting goalie of the future for the Hawks, he is also still young, and anything can happen. He did well in the few starts he had even though it's a small sample size, but it is cause for optimism. Besides, if he doesn't pan out as the starter, it never hurts to have capable goalies in the system.
We will most likely see these players in Rockford over the coming seasons and they might play a few games for the Hawks as well. All of the above players are still young, and no one will know for certain who will pan out for the Hawks going forward. The Blackhawks could also potentially take another goalie in the coming draft, but I don't think they plan on using a high draft pick on any of the goalies. It is going to take time to see who the goalie of the future is, and it could be someone not in the system yet. Fans can only hope that whoever it is, turns out being capable of providing the team with the long-term success that is hopefully yet to come.