By Jay Zawaski–
(CBS) Friday and Saturday’s NHL Draft was supposed to be the weekend of the salary dump for the Chicago Blackhawks. Many — media and fans alike — expected general manager Stan Bowman to stockpile as many picks as he could by trading likely cap casualties Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell. That didn’t happen.
The Hawks did make one minor trade once the draft ended, however. The team sent backup goaltender Antti Raanta to the New York Rangers in exchange for 22-year-old winger Ryan Haggerty, who had 15 goals and 18 assists in his first professional season with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League last year.
A Stamford, Conn., native, Haggerty previously registered 84 points (47 goals, 37 assists) over three seasons at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Haggerty also participated in the United States national team development program from 2009-’11.
While Raanta’s name wasn’t at the heart of this summer’s rumors, it’s no surprise that he was dealt. Scott Darling had obviously supplanted him as the backup goalie. Recently, a Hawks source told me that coach Joel Quenneville never really trusted Raanta between the pipes, and a rash of perceived soft goals sealed his fate.
The Hawks have used three goalies in each of the past two seasons, so what will they do next year should Corey Crawford or Darling suffer an injury?
The Blackhawks are high on Swedish goalie Anders Nilsson, who they acquired in the Nick Leddy trade last October. Nilsson is big at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and spent last season playing with AK-Bars of the KHL in Russia, where he recorded a 20-9-8 record, a 1.71 GAA and a .936 save percentage. In the playoffs, he was just as solid, going 13-7-0 with a 1.54 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.
Nilsson did leave the Islanders due to his lack of desire to play in the AHL, so the Hawks will have to somehow convince him if he is indeed going to be the third goalie.
As for Haggerty, HockeyProspect.com’s Sean White offers this scouting report:
“Decent size and good offensive skills. Big offensive year his last season in college (43 points in 35 games). He’ll be a 3rd or 4th liner in Chicago if/when he’s called up. He will likely start the season in Rockford, but has good upside. Solid return for Raanta.”
Rest assured, the Hawks aren’t done making moves. The next order of business is to get Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger locked up, then free agency begins Wednesday at 11 a.m. CT.