SUNRISE, Fla. – Perhaps the No. 1 question when it came to the Blackhawks when the season started was who was going to take the position of No. 50.
With Corey Crawford out and no clear cut successor, the team entered training camp with four players that figured to compete for the position. When the final roster was announced, that number went down to three, as Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, and Kevin Lankinen all figured into the mix to start.
After Subban and Delia failed to get a win in their contests, surrendering 15 combined goals, the Blackhawks now get the shot to see their third goalie in four games.
The 25-year old from Finland will get to make his NHL debut on Tuesday night as the Blackhawks take on the Panthers in the last of a two-game series at the BB&T Center. He’ll try to do what the two goalies above him couldn’t in the opening three games – bring the team a victory.
It’s a long time coming for the goalie who started playing in Finland back in 2011, when he joined the Jokerit of the SM-liiga, playing first for their junior’s team. He’s represented his home country on the national team and was signed by the Blackhawks in May of 2018.
He played for the Indy Fuel of the ECHL and the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL starting in the 2018-2019 season. Lankinen was called up to the Blackhawks for a bit in January of 2020 after an injury to Robin Lehner but was never put into a game.
Now he gets his chance to show head coach Jeremy Colliton and the rest of the team’s staff what he can do in net for the team. So far, however, there’s not a set rotation between the three goalies, with the team making it a game-by-game decision.
“We definitely haven’t mapped it out like that. We have a new discussion every game,” said Colliton of his goaltender rotation. “Certainly there’s an overall plan that we want to give different guys opportunities and we want to reward them when they do a good job and give them more responsibility. If it looks like it’s too much, then will pull back.
“That’s the overall plan. Looking for progression throughout the year, and if that happens, that’s going to help us get results on the ice.”