Blackhawks

Early 2020 Stanley Cup odds: Where do Blackhawks come in at?

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USA TODAY

Early 2020 Stanley Cup odds: Where do Blackhawks come in at?

The 2018-19 NHL season came to an end on Wednesday night after the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins in Game 7 to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. It capped an unbelievable run by the Blues, who became the first team in the expansion era (1967-68) to sit in last place overall at any point after its 30th game and win the title.

But now it's time to turn the page to next season.

One oddsmaker released its initial odds for the 2020 Stanley Cup, and the Blackhawks found themselves tied with three other teams — including the Carolina Hurricanes, who went to the Eastern Conference Final — at 33/1. The Tampa Bay Lightning opened as the favorites at 8/1, with the defending champion Blues tied for fifth at 12/1. 

Check out the full list below:

Tampa Bay Lightning: 8/1
Boston Bruins: 9/1
Vegas Golden Knights: 9/1
Toronto Maple Leafs: 10/1
Colorado Avalanche: 12/1
St. Louis Blues: 12/1
San Jose Sharks: 16/1
Washington Capitals: 16/1
Winnipeg Jets: 16/1
Calgary Flames: 18/1
Pittsburgh Penguins: 18/1
Nashville Predators: 22/1
Florida Panthers: 25/1
Philadelphia Flyers: 25/1
Columbus Blue Jackets: 28/1
Dallas Stars: 28/1
New York Islanders: 28/1
Minnesota Wild: 33/1
Arizona Coyotes: 33/1
Carolina Hurricanes: 33/1
Chicago Blackhawks: 33/1
Edmonton Oilers: 40/1
Vancouver Canucks: 40/1
Buffalo Sabres: 50/1
Montreal Canadiens: 50/1
Anaheim Ducks: 66/1
Detroit Red Wings: 66/1
Los Angeles Kings: 66/1
New Jersey Devils: 66/1
New York Rangers: 66/1
Ottawa Senators: 100/1

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Projecting what Blackhawks goaltending tandem could look like in 2020-21

Projecting what Blackhawks goaltending tandem could look like in 2020-21

Going into the 2019-20 season, the Blackhawks had arguably the best goaltending tandem in Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner. But both of them were on expiring contracts and you knew there would be a point where the organization had to make a decision on one or both.

One of those decisions was made at the NHL trade deadline when the Blackhawks traded Lehner to recoup some future assets. But there's still another one to be made.

What will the goaltending duo look like next season?

The Blackhawks have two goaltenders under contract for the 2020-21 campaign: Collin Delia and Matt Tomkins, both of whom are with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Kevin Lankinen, who was an AHL All-Star this season, is a pending restricted free agent along with Malcolm Subban, who was acquired by the Blackhawks from Vegas in the Lehner deal and is likely to serve as the backup for the rest of the season, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Subban is arbitration eligible, so he does have some control about what his next contract could look like.

Crawford is the only one of the group that's set to become an unrestricted free agent, and he's the most established of them all. It's no secret he believes he can still be an everyday starter in this league and would prefer to remain in Chicago.

Crawford's concussion history and the fact he's 35 years old should certainly be noted when evaluating the future of the goaltending position, but the Blackhawks should be encouraged by what they've seen from him this season. He's gotten better as the season has gone on and should get a bulk of the starts down the stretch, which is the workload he's accustomed to.

All things considered, it would be a win-win for both the Blackhawks and Crawford to agree on a short-term extension. It gives the Blackhawks a couple more years to find or groom their goaltender of the future and allows Crawford to finish his NHL career in Chicago while doing so as a starter.

The question now is, who will be his backup?

The Blackhawks saw enough of Delia to reward him with a three-year contract extension at a team-friendly $1 million cap hit, which kicked in this season. He was expected to be Crawford's backup if Lehner didn't surprise the hockey world by signing with the Blackhawks on July 1.

It should be Delia's job to lose going into training camp because his body of work speaks for itself. He's proved himself at the AHL level. He elevated his game during the Calder Cup Playoffs. And last season with the Blackhawks, he led the team in 5-on-5 save percentage (.925), high-danger save percentage (.866) and goals saved above average (2.96).

Subban is the wildcard. He has the most NHL experience of the four potential candidates on the current roster besides Crawford but has struggled to take the next step with a career 2.97 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 65 career appearances.

Another factor to consider is the 2021 expansion draft next summer. Every team is required to make one goalie available who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his contract prior to 2021-22. The Blackhawks probably aren't a team that has to worry too much about this because the goaltenders in their pipeline have limited NHL experience, but it's still worth noting.

The Blackhawks are in no rush to figure out the future of their goaltending situation, but it will certainly be at the forefront of their minds going into the summer.

"I wouldn't say we've mapped out who it's gonna be," GM Stan Bowman said. "We have a lot of candidates, and we've got to make that choice between now and next season. We have Kevin Lankinen, Collin Delia, Subban and Crawford. We're going to have to sort through that and look at the options. I don't have that answer for you today, but obviously we don't have a proven NHL goalie signed for next year, so we have to address that before next year.

"That’s something that’ll play itself out over the next few months here leading into the summer. We do have some decisions to make. It’s early to handicap what’s going to happen with the goaltending position. We need time to reset and analyze that."

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NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

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USA Today

NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

The NHL general managers meetings are set to begin next week and one of the topics on the docket to be discussed may be emergency backup goalie (EBUG) procedures. The recent interest in reevaluating EBUG rules come after 42-year-old David Ayres suited up to play for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs this past weekend.

The issue of EBUGs comes up so rarely that NHL GMs don’t typically give it much thought. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke about EBUGs this Tuesday during the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets game.

“It's something we've given some consideration to over the years. As recently as last year, we discussed [it] with the general managers. It happens very, very rarely, but when it happens, it obviously raises everybody's attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue,” he explained. “We have to work with the [NHL] Players' Association. Who's a player? Who's not a player? What qualifies all of that? But obviously we want what's best for the game, and we want to make sure people aren't putting themselves in danger by playing goal in a National Hockey League game. ... So that's obviously something we have to continue to work through."

Currently, the 2019-20 NHL official rules state, “if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible."

Ayres drives the Zamboni at the Mattamy Athletic Center in Toronto and frequently practices with the Leafs. Ayres stepped in the net after Hurricanes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured. He made eight saves and is the oldest goalie in NHL history to make his regular season debut.

The Blackhawks had their own instance of needing an EBUG in 2018 against the Winnipeg Jets. Scott Foster, a then-36-year-old accountant stepped in the net at the United Center after Corey Crawford and Collin Delia were sidelined by injury. Foster saved all seven shots on goal, making him the first EBUG to make a save and a hometown hero in Chicago. 

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