One year ago Collin Delia had just wrapped up his first Blackhawks prospect camp, hoping to improve off a sophomore season at Merrimack College where he struggled in net.
Fast forward to this summer and Delia, who responded in a major way as a junior, is now joining the professional ranks after signing a two-year deal with the Blackhawks on Friday, the team announced.
After playing well in limited ice time as a freshman, Delia became the full-time starter for the Warriors as a sophomore. But he had his growing pains in a new role, going just 8-12-6 while allowing 2.96 GAA. That number ranked 12th of 15 in the Hockey East League, and his .889 save percentage ranked dead last.
But Delia's struggles as a sophomore were non-existent as he returned to Merrimack for his junior season. He rose from the bottom to the top of the conference in save percentage (.927) and ranked third in GAA (2.15). His GAA ranked 14th in the nation and his save percentage ranked 9th nationally.
He recorded three shutouts (he had none as a sophomore), including a 33-save performance in a 2-0 road victory over Wisconsin, and was named a Hockey East Third Team All-Star.
The Blackhawks clearly noticed his improvements as a junior as he arrived last week for his second round of Blackhawks prospect camp.
Last year the Blackhawks signed Alexandre Fortin out of prospect camp. As Insider Tracey Myers wrote last week, Fortin could force his way onto the Blackhawks roster this summer.
Patrick Kane is among the Hart Trophy candidates for the 2017-18 season, but what are his early odds to reclaim the title?
The 28-year-old Blackhawks star followed up an 106-point campaign in which he became the first American-born player to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophy by finishing tied for second in the NHL with 89 points last season.
But he's facing some tougher odds going into this year.
Bovada revelead Wednesday that Connor McDavid is the front-runner to repeat at 3/2 odds, followed by Sidney Crosby (5/2), Auston Matthews (17/2) and Alex Ovechkin (9/1). Kane ranks fifth at 14/1.
Here's the rest of the list:
- Vladimir Tarasenko: 15/1
- Evgeni Malkin: 16/1
- Carey Price, John Tavares: 20/1
- Jamie Benn, Steven Stamkos: 25/1
- Erik Karlsson, Nikita Kucherov: 33/1
- Jack Eichel, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrik Laine, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin: 50/1
- Nicklas Backstrom, Brent Burns, Braden Holtby, Phil Kessel, Artemi Panarin, Joe Pavelski: 60/1
A couple solid value picks would be Karlsson at 33/1 and Burns at 60/1, both of whom made strong cases to be in that conversation last year as defensemen.
You'll also notice Panarin as a darkhorse candidate. It will be interesting to see how Kane and Panarin fare without each other in the prime of their careers. Who knows, maybe they'll be sharing the stage together as finalists in Las Vegas next June.
On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Bryan Bickell sits down with Pat Boyle and they discuss the retired player's journey to the NHL, which included being an Ottawa clubhouse assistant where he met future teammate, Marian Hossa.
Bickell admits when he finally knew he was a regular in the NHL, his incredible 2013 postseason performance and the historic 17 seconds in Boston.
Finally, Bryan gets emotional when discussing his MS diagnosis, his shootout goal in his final NHL game, and how his wife Amanda has been at his side throughout his entire hockey career.
Listen to the Hawks Talk Podcast below: