NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec. 16. Today, three important questions facing the Chicago Blackhawks.
1. Who will be the No. 1 goalie?
Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen will compete for playing time following the departure of two-time Stanley Cup champion Corey Crawford as a free agent. Subban has the most experience, with an NHL record of 30-23-7 with a 2.97 goals-against average, an .899 save percentage and one shutout in 66 games (60 starts) with the Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights and Blackhawks. Delia is 7-5-3 with a 3.65 GAA and a .906 save percentage in 18 NHL games (16 starts) with the Blackhawks, but last played in the NHL on March 13, 2019. Lankinen, who was 8-10-2 with a 3.03 GAA and a .909 save percentage in 21 games for Rockford of the American Hockey League last season, has no NHL experience.
“They all believe they’re No. 1 goalies and we want that to be the case and we need one of them to step forward,” Chicago general manager Stan Bowman said. “But we’re going to give all three an opportunity to show us in training camp. Then in the season, if one of the three or two of the three clearly steps ahead of the others, it’ll become apparent which ones we’re going to run with.”
2. Can Dominik Kubalik build off his rookie season?
Kubalik scored 46 points (30 goals, 16 assists) in 68 games, third on the Blackhawks behind forwards Patrick Kane (84 points) and Jonathan Toews (60 points). He led NHL rookies in goals and was third in voting for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year, behind Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes.
Kubalik, who signed a two-year, $7.4 million contract ($3.7 million average annual value) on Oct. 9, said he won’t put too much pressure on himself this season.
“To be successful again, that’s the first goal right now,” the 25-year-old said. “To show that it wasn’t just one season, to keep going, keep getting better, keep playing hard. Right now everybody expects me to score 30 goals [again]. I’d like to do it again, but we’ll see how it goes.”
3. What’s the next step for Kirby Dach?
The 19-year-old forward scored 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 64 regular-season games and six points (one goal, five assists) in nine postseason games as a rookie last season. After averaging 14:16 of ice time per game in the regular season, Dach averaged 19:24 in the postseason.
“We want him to keep getting better, keep improving. There’s still a lot there,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “He took the opportunity that was given to him and he made it count. We want him to continue that progression, but it may not be perfect. We can’t be too reactive to the ups and downs. We obviously think he can be an elite player in the League and we’ll do everything we can to help him get there.”