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Chicago’s star Finnish goalie not irked by Khabibulin signing

Jul 10, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT


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.”

  1. endusersolutions2013 - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    The other dynamic is that, while Hawks had some younger goalies in the pipeline. all 3 goalies on the AHL club left (one to Nashville, one to Sweden, don’t remember the other).
    So they had an immediate need on their AHL club. Getting some time in the AHl is a good thing as he can get used to the narrower rinks here, and how the games are called before he has the pressure of NHL starts.

    • esracerx46 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      Alec Richards was the other one. They let him try his hand overseas mid-season and is also a free agent. They also brought up Kent Simpson from the ECHL for a few games. Mac Carruth is also in the system and will join the pro ranks. Raanta Simpson and Carruth are now next in line

  2. rosloe62 - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Raanta has nothing to worry about. If he does in Rockford what he did in Finland, he’ll be on the Hawks roster. Khabibulin is older and only has a one year deal, and Crawford is going to be up for a huge pay increase. So Raanta may end up being the starting goalie for the Hawks in a few years. Plus with the depth of the Hawks, they will compete for the Stanley Cup every year for the next 3 – 5 years.

    • esracerx46 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      Raanta, like Khabibulin is also on a one year contract. Would have been nice to see what Raanta could have done at prospect camp. It’s a shame he got hurt. I thought he had some sort of injury in the world championships….perhaps this current injury is a carry over or a re-injury of that.

  3. tripps3 - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    He has a good mindset – to prove himself

    • alexbaymac - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      That seems to be the mindset that the Hawks organization is trying to develop. That’s what builds a dynasty.
      However, they need to have hope that their work will pay of & THAT’S the biggest reason I’m OK with the loss of Bolland, Frolik & Stals (Stalberg, it seems, never really bought into that program). Now there is room for others to show up & claim a spot. Keep them in Rockford too long & they sour or leave. I’m pretty happy with StanBo & Co right now.

  4. boomer1451 - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Pretty sure PHT was the only ones trying to drum up a story for this. It was not a shock to me (or anyone who follows the Blackhawks/hockey) that Rannata was not immediately going to be the #2 from the start. A proven NHL goalie was needed as backup, as Rannata learns the system/NHL game…. He has a lot of talent & I expect him to be up there at some point but the “Wall” was a good signing until Rannata is ready

  5. hammerhead5573 - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    @ boomer, thats exactly what I thought yesterday when I read what obrien posted. Almost his entire article was just throwing things to see what sticks. At no point did he provide actual quotes from anyone.

    • Mike Halford - Jul 10, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      Hey guys, appreciate the comments but just so you know — the Sun-Times asked Raanta specifically about the Khabibulin signing and if it bothered him, so we didn’t exactly “drum up a story.” I appreciate that it might look like trying to generate controversy for controversy’s sake, but I just wanted to say it’s really not the case. Cheers.

  6. hammerhead5573 - Jul 10, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    If thats the case Mr Halford, then Obrien should have quoted him. At no point did he do that, which seems to be the new normal. Hence you have commenters not believing something in a sketchy article.

  7. blackhawks2010 - Jul 10, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Raanta can prove himself in Rockford and get the nod next year as Crow’s understudy. Hawks are loaded, best defense and team in hockey. Period.

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