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Kevin Lankinen Contract Signed, Goalie Carousel Spins Again

The Nashville Predators signed unrestricted free agent goaltender Kevin Lankinen to a one-year contract worth $1.5 million for next season. The contract carries him through the 2022-23 season.

Kevin Lankinen Contract Signed, Another Goalie Off the Carousel

In 29 starts and 32 appearances last season, Lankinen posted an 8-15-6 record. In those games, he accumulated a .891 save percentage to go with a 3.50 goals-against average. He served as the Hawks’ primary backup netminder after leading the team in starts in his rookie season. As a rookie, he managed a 17-14-5 record with a .909 save percentage and 3.20 goals against average. The relegation to backup duties came after Chicago acquired Marc-Andre Fleury last summer. However, Fleury’s numbers fell right where Lankinen’s had one season prior (.908 save percentage, 19-21-5). Things improved for Fleury after a trade deadline deal sent him to the Minnesota Wild. For Lankinen, though, he simply started more games for the lowly Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite not being selected in the NHL entry draft, Lankinen worked his way up the ranks from the ECHL. He played professionally in Europe for five years prior to that, as well. Now at 27 years of age, Lankinen wants to prove he can not just play, but succeed at the NHL level. He owns a 25-29-11 career record in 69 games played, with two shutouts, a .901 save percentage, and 3.23 goals-against average.

What This Means for the Future

The Blackhawks still own plenty of cap space, and will need to hit the free agent market to shore up the goaltending position. Only Petr Mrazek has NHL experience amongst the Hawks goaltenders under contract. The other two likely need more time before a call-up too, at 22 and 23 years of age, apiece. Despite owning cap space, the Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane contracts till loom very, very large. That being said, after 2022-23, those deals expire and return a whopping $21 million in flexibility. Considering the team’s trajectory for “full rebuild mode”, don’t expect them to sign big-names quite yet. As long as they’re at the cap floor, Chicago should be content to just “get through” 2022-23.

If anything, the Hawks should be very active in the trade market. Kane and Toews could very well return more future assets between now and the trade deadline, and Chicago can retain plenty of their salary to facilitate those moves. Of course, that depends on both individuals and their willingness to waive their no-trade clauses. They can also acquire other contracts to help teams out, in exchange for even more future assets.

Lankinen has an opportunity to prove himself and move on from Chicago. Meanwhile, Chicago enters the most pivotal season in their existence since 2006 when they first drafted Toews. The Hawks will simply never look the same, as this era winds down.


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