Nice little break today from the playoffs with some other news happening. So let’s look at it.
The Hawks today signed Antti Raanta, the MVP of the Finnish Elite League season and playoffs. Raanta was pursued by a lot of NHL teams, with Minnesota, Edmonton, and Columbus mentioned as the hottest after him.
Raanta’s numbers this year in Finland are pretty eye-popping. He has a .943 save-percentage in the regular season, and .955 in the playoffs. His goals-against was 1.85 in the season and then a ridiculous 1.33 in the playoffs. Raanta then backstopped Finland in the World Championships, and he was excellent there as well with a save-percentage .928.
While it’s only Finland, you like the pure domination he showed. One mini-flag I suppose is his size, as he’s only 6-0 and 182. In today’s NHL, unless you have the Gumby-limbs of Tim Thomas, if you’re not big you can get muscled out of plays and will struggle with the screening tactics of a lot of teams in the league. He won’t have seen much like that in Finland. But he’s not tiny either, so it’s an adjustment he could make.
What this means for the Hawks and their goalies’ respective futures is the interesting debate. Ray M. Murray probably priced himself out of what the Hawks have available for a backup role next year, considering the squeeze the dropping cap will cause.
Was Raanta promised that much? Considering Edmonton and Minnesota would have been able to promise a crack at a starting job in training camp, you have to believe so. Secondly, he’s only signed a one year deal, which makes you think neither side has a lot of interest in letting him get accustomed to the North American game in Rockford.
What it means for Crawford’s future is even more complex. Perhaps Stan is already readying the team for when Crow gets too expensive. Both Raanta and Crow will be free agents after next year, and maybe Stan wants a one-year look at whether Raanta could handle the full job following.
Because let’s just say Crow carries this spring out to the full dream. Say he gets an Olympic nod next winter (did anyone see that coming before this season?). Say he doesn’t completely shit it next year. Could Crow command $5 mildo per year? If Jimmy Howard got that, you’d have to say so. And Crawford has already gone further in the playoffs than Howard has.
Will the Hawks have room for a $5-$6 million (gulp) goalie with all the other parts that they’re going to have to juggle the next couple years — such as Bickell, Leddy, Kruger, Toews and Kane extensions, Bolland if he’s not dealt, a possible Hossa buyout, Hjalmarsson, and a couple others.
Bowman may be hedging his bets, just a little.