Chicago’s star Finnish goalie not irked by Khabibulin signing
Antti Raanta, the talented Finnish netminder that signed with the Blackhawks in early June, says he has no problem with the club acquiring veteran Nikolai Khabibulin to pair with Corey Crawford next season.
‘‘It was kind of obvious that they were going to take some goalie there,’’ he told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘They didn’t promise me that I was going to be in the first two goalies, so I knew I had to [do] a lot of work to get upstairs and get games in the NHL.’’
Raanta, 24, was named SM-liiga playoff MVP this season after capturing the Jari Kurri Trophy, Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe. He posted a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage in the playoffs for Assat, backstopping the club to the league championship.
That award capped off a banner campaign in which he also won the league’s top goaltender award and regular season MVP.
Unsurprisingly, there were a number of NHL teams interested in securing Raanta’s services.
Chicago beat out the likes of Minnesota, Winnipeg and Edmonton, and it looked as though Raanta was in line for a backup job at the NHL level after Ray Emery -- who teamed with Crawford to win the Jennings Trophy last season -- signed in Philadelphia.
But shortly after Emery inked with the Flyers, the ‘Hawks brought back Khabibulin, who played in Chicago from 2005-09.
Rannata, to his credit, seemed unfazed by the development.
“If I have to go to the AHL, I’m ready for that, " he explained. “I just have to take the pucks and try to be the No. 1 goalie in Rockford and in the NHL sometime.”