With the Chicago Blackhawks up 2-0 in their series with the Los Angeles Kings, and proving all the media who predicted Chicago to struggle sitting quietly in embarrassment feeling dead wrong, the Blackhawks were busy making some moves that flew a little under the radar given the teams impressive post season run. GM Stan Bowman has signed free agent Finnish goalie Antti Raanta to a one year deal. For those of you wondering who Antti Raanta is, here is what you need to know:
Antti Raanta is a late blooming 24 year old goalie who has spent his whole career playing in the Finnish elite league SM-liiga, getting better each season. The past two seasons Raanta has been one of the top goalies in Europe and this past season dominated during the regular season and playoffs to earn a lot of interest from NHL teams, eventually choosing the Chicago Blackhawks.
Antti Raanta Statistics
Raanta had taken his game to another level in 2012-13, after suffering two straight playoffs where he performed under expectations he came into the 2013 post season like a man possessed. Raanta went 12-4 with a .945 save % and a miniscule 1.33 GAA to dominate the SM-liiga playoffs and win the championship for Assat-pori, winning the playoff MVP award along the way.
The Finland national team came calling next as he was the starter for Finland, this was the first game action I had got to see of Raanta and he was easily the Fins strongest player. Despite losing in the bronze medal game, he was selected as top player on team Finland as selected by IIHF coaches.
His elite level of play all year attracted many potential suitors including extensive interest by the Edmonton Oilers. Raanta’s signing leaves the future of Ray Emery up in question as he is headed to unrestricted free agency.
Emery could command some high interest being one of the few available goalies on the market who doesn’t have a mammoth contract attached to him. If Emery does leave as a UFA it opens the door for Raanta to start the season as Corey Crawford’s backup.
Whatever happens, after years of questions and changing faces it appears the Blackhawks goaltending has become one of their most dependable positions, a trend they hope carries on into the distant future.