Collin Delia has been patiently waiting for his chance to make the full transition to the NHL. This past offseason seemed like the time was right to do that. The Chicago Blackhawks were entering what Stan Bowman considered a rebuilding phase where he would prioritize youth development.
Delia is one of those youths that Bowman would likely develop at the NHL level. January 13 rolls around and he was ready for a long season splitting time with teammate Malcolm Subban. Fast forward two months and Delia is sitting on the team’s scratched list. He has only appeared in six professional games this season, two of them in the NHL. To an outsider it might seem like Delia’s days in Chicago are almost over. Taking a deeper look and one will see that Delia’s time in Chicago isn’t close to being over.
Collin Delia’s Time in Chicago Isn’t Done Yet
Collin Delia Career Overview
The 6′-2” netminder was signed out of Merrimack College in the summer of 2017. He had appeared in a few prospect camps for the team in summers prior, but finally got his break that summer. The next season in Rockford he played 28 AHL games. In that time he posted a .900 save percentage and a 2.72 goals-against-average.
He had an opportunity at the NHL level that season, too. In his two games he split them in wins and put up a .899 save percentage with a goals-against-average just south of 4.00. The season after saw him take on a new role for the team.
The 2018-19 season saw Delia appear in 16 games for Chicago. Despite a mediocre team in front of him, Delia posted a respectable.908 save percentage and a 3.61 goals-against-average. Even with the NHL experience, Delia played last season in Rockford where he split time with Kevin Lankinen.
Going into this season Delia was expected to make the big jump and split time with Subban. Two bad games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers and the front office jumped ship from the goalie that was heir-apparent to Crawford only a season ago.
Despite all the evidence being stacked up against Delia’s chances of having another chance to stay, there’s still hope. With the Trade deadline coming up, still 20+ games to play, and an offseason after that, Delia’s still got plenty of opportunity to prove himself again.
Staying Scenario One: Trade Deadline
The Blackhawks are in a position this season where they can make a few key additions to their team at this year’s trade deadline. Trading a goalie is unlikely, considering the somewhat stable nature that the Lankinen-Subban tandem has brought for the team.
However unlikely it is for either of those guys to be moved, anything can happen. If Stan Bowman were to deal off Subban in a deadline day deal, Delia would be the next player up in the goaltending depth charts. As much as Delia is rooting for team success, one could imagine how happy he’d be if that opportunity were to present itself after the trade deadline passes.
Scenario Two: Horrible Losing Stretch
In as weird of a season that professional sports are having, losing stretches are common for every team. Yes some are more prone to them than others, take the Buffalo Sabres as an example, but every team goes through its highs and lows during a season like this. Chicago hasn’t really had any really long, really bad stretches of lackluster play. They have been a textbook example of a mediocre, middle of the pack team. Luckily for them this type of play has allowed them to hold a playoff spot in the Central Division right now.
If the team were to go on an absolutely terribly run after the trade deadline and lose total control of their spot, bringing up Delia would be a great idea. At the point in the season they might not have anything to lose in playing him. The team either finds success with Delia in the net or they continue to slip. Either way it goes there’s a positive in Delia getting more reps at the NHL level.
Scenario Three: Collin Delia Sticks it Out
Maybe the front office still see’s Collin Delia as the next in line for the role of franchise goalie. By no means does one season decide the fate of a highly skilled and NHL ready goalie. He might not be getting AHL reps right now but he’s still traveling with the team and getting a look at NHL shot caliber during practice, and there’s some value in that.
Next season might come around and he could be in the AHL, but he’d be playing actual hockey again. The current contract Delia is on has him signed through July of 2022. That summer could roll around and the front office will re-up his contract and not Subban or Lankinen’s, and all of that waiting will have been worth while.