DALLAS — Antti Raanta and Kent Simpson are holding the goaltending reins in the wake of Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin’s injuries. And while he’ll keep an eye out for other options, general manager Stan Bowman said he’ll go with those two right now.
“We actually have some pro scouting meetings tomorrow – they’ve been scheduled for two months. We’ll go over what they know in terms of guys they’ve seen, see if there’s anyone out there, trade-wise to help out. You’re always looking to upgrade or help your team out, but it’s pretty early,” Bowman said prior to the Blackhawks’ game against the Dallas Stars. “It’s only been (two days) since Corey was injured and it’s not going to be a long-term thing, which is good news. It’s a wait-and-see approach. We’ll assess, see what our options are, and go from there.”
Crawford will be out the next three weeks with a groin injury he sustained on Sunday night against the Florida Panthers. Khabibulin suffered a lower-body injury in mid-November against Nashville and, as of this past weekend, hadn’t taken to the ice yet. As of Tuesday night, Bowman said he hadn’t called any other general managers on his goaltending situation.
“We need to give these guys a little bit of a chance,” he said.
Raanta has done well in his brief time with the Blackhawks. He’s got a 3-0-1 record with a 2.16 goals-against average. Bowman has liked what he’s seen thus far from the 24-year-old.
“Going back to when he came in in Colorado, I’m sure he was pretty nervous in that game but he got his feet wet,” Bowman said. “With a goalie like Antti who’s new to North America, you want to get him some minutes and get him comfortable. Everything’s new to him. It’s helped him being in Rockford. There was always going to be that adjustment period for European goaltenders. Now he’s in the NHL, playing on the road and in competitive environments. It’s something you have to go through, and he’s played well.”
Raanta’s transition has been made easier by his own demeanor and desire to learn. Bowman’s admired Raanta’s calm in the stressful situations he’s been in as well.
“It’s one of the things we liked about him when we decided to sign him,” Bowman said. “He’s a very likeable guy. Coaches and players have noticed it. He’s the kind of guy you root for. He’s really positive, upbeat, and he has the personality to really blend into new situations. He doesn’t seem to get too flustered. That’s serving him well so far.”