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Official: ‘Hawks sign star Finnish goalie

Jun 3, 2013, 12:10 PM EDT

AnttiRantaa

The Chicago Blackhawks have agreed to terms with Finnish goalie Antti Raanta, according to Juha Hiitela of Urheilusanomat.

UPDATE: The ‘Hawks have confirmed the signing.

Raanta, 24, was named SM-liiga playoff MVP this season after — capturing the Jari Kurri Trophy, Finland’s equivalent to the Conn Smythe — while posting a 1.33 GAA and .955 save percentage 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.

One of them was the Minnesota Wild, who are facing some questions in goal this summer with Niklas Backstrom becoming a UFA and only Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper and Johan Gustafsson behind him.

Hiitela reports the Jets and Oilers were also believed to be in the running.

Signing with Chicago is certainly an interesting move. The ‘Hawks are currently locked into Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, though neither is signed past 2014 (Emery is a UFA this summer, Crawford next summer).

  1. madhouseonmadison - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    What fantastic news! Crawford is not signed after next season and certainly is going to command a very heafty salary. This FO mantra always has been: don’t sign goalies to big time contracts. Next in line!

    • spunisher - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:35 PM

      I’d be very surprised if Crawford gets a big contract. Yes he’s ben good enough for the Blackhawks to win the cup so far. A lot of his success has to do with his team, I’m not trying to discredit him at all. Crawford really has played good goaltending but the situation Chicago faces is do you give him a 5 mil a year 4-5 year contract when you know that a lot of that contract is because of the product around him and not because of himself. Chicago doesn’t have the cap space to sign a contract like that and that’s why they signed this goalie which is an excellent move.

      • madhouseonmadison - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        Not only do they not have the cap space but this front office simply would never give that money to a goalie even if they indeed did have the space to do so.

  2. jpelle82 - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    why would he choose a place where he will hardly play is a mystery i guess…shouldve went to any one of the other teams, especially edmonton where he couldve probably started right away

    • madhouseonmadison - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      Very simple…

      1) Crawford probably won’t be back in Chicago after next year

      2) Hawks will be consistent winners for the next 8-10 years

      3) Hawks have the best defense, best defensive depth with an incredibly young blue line in front of him.

      4) Hammer is already here… Oduya.. and Teevu in their minor league system.

      Makes all the sense in the World to me.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jun 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      What we also don’t know is the true status of Ray Emery. We has out with a “groin injury” at the end of the season, and has not played a minute since. Has had major hip surgery to replacing dying bone before his hip collapsed. Odds were bleak he’d ever play again, he beat the odds and played GREAT this year. But the key question is, can he be counted on as a starter (and a backup has to looked at as a potential starter if #1 falters or is injured.

  3. madhouseonmadison - Jun 3, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Ixnay on Oduya – not sure why I included him in that list above.

  4. dt58 - Jun 3, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Looks like they’re using the same strategy that they used with Niemi. Crawford and Emery will probably demand decent dollars after this year. Even if the Hawks do keep Crawford and/or Emery, never hurts to have quality goaltenders even if nothing more than trading him

    • madhouseonmadison - Jun 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Crawford is signed thru next year – he’s not going anywhere. Emery will not be back – should Raanta perform well in camp/pre season it’s very likely he’s backing up Crawford next year to take over once Crawford gets big $$ on the UFA market next offseason.

      • dt58 - Jun 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        You’re right about Crawford, my bad. And you’re probably right about how that will play out but it never hurts to have quality players regardless of position but especially goalies. I like Crawford and if he does go after next year it’ll be sad to see him leave but I think he’s a top-tier goalie and deserves to be paid like one

  5. esracerx46 - Jun 3, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    “Signing with Chicago is certainly an interesting move. The ‘Hawks are currently locked into Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, though neither is signed past 2014 (Emery is a UFA this summer, Crawford next summer)” To me it doesn’t really sound all that interesting on Chicago’s end. Emery is gone after this year and the Hawks system lacks an NHL quality goalie. Either Raanta backs up Crawford next year, or is the workhorse in Rockford.

  6. noozehound - Jun 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    madhouseonmadison. yes, the hawks are going to be successful for several years, but so are the wild, and our starting goalie is ancient. He could have picked a very successful team, AND had an opportunity to play very soon. If the hawks win the cup thus year (which I’m predicting they do) are you seriously telling me they’re going to dump both goalies that got them there?

    • adambballn - Jun 3, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      Crawford is under contract next season but there is no way the Hawks will pay him the money he’s going to command as a UFA after next season should he keep his current play up. They didn’t pay Niemi after he won a cup, they aren’t paying Crawford either.

      • comeonnowguys - Jun 3, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        And IIRC, Niemi initially signed for even less than what Chicago offered him ($2.3 vs. $2.75–IIRC, and I may not)

      • kicksave1980 - Jun 4, 2013 at 4:24 AM

        That’s true, but Crawford won’t be getting 5M per on the open market. The Niemi signing in San Jose is most likely the bar that has been set for guys like Crow. And (likely) the only reason they didn’t re-sign Niemi is because of massive salary cap snafus of legendary proportions, combined with SJ offer-sheeting Hjalmarsson.

        Either way, I like the signing. You can never have too much goaltending in a system.

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