With the devastating news this week that Corey Crawford could be done for the season, much has been made of the Blackhawks’ goaltending situation. Some have called for Chicago to roll with who they have on the roster, Jeff Glass and Anton Forsberg, while others have called for a trade– possibly Detroit’s Petr Mrazek or Arizona’s Antti Raanta.
Mortgaging current or future assets for a quick fix, especially given the inconsistent play and low chances of a deep playoff run seems short-sighted. Today we are going to take a look at future goaltenders already within Chicago’s system, and provide some observations for those of you that have not had the chance to see them play. Two players, in particular, have been pleasant surprises in their respective outings.
Rockford IceHogs, American Hockey League
Jean-Francois Berube, 26, 6’1″, 177 Lbs.
The most experienced goaltender in the Blackhawks’ minor system, Berube was the 95th overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, by the LA Kings. Berube has appeared in 22 NHL games over the past three seasons, 21 for the New York Islanders, and one for the Blackhawks. Berube is a product of the QMJHL and has worked his way through two partial seasons in the ECHL to the AHL, prior to his split seasons between the AHL and NHL. Berube owns a career .899 save percentage mark in NHL action, and has appeared in 13 games this season for the IceHogs. He owns a 7-6-0 record this season, to go along with a 2.43 GAA and .918 save percentage. Should something happen and the Blackhawks need a quick call-up, Berube figures to be the first call.
Collin Delia, 23, 6’2″, 200 Lbs
The Merrimack College product is currently in his first professional season. He began this season assigned to the ECHL affiliate Indy Fuel, and split time between the two clubs. Delia would practice and receive coaching in Rockford, and play in Indy some weeks. That instability may have led to inconsistent play, as Delia posted a 1-7-0 record in Indy with a 4.12 GAA and .887 save percentage. He appeared to struggle with rebound control and traffic in front of the net, common problems when transitioning to the faster pro game. However, since being called up to Rockford, Delia owns a 4-4-1 record in nine appearances and is still right around the same save percentage, .880. With time and experience, he should continue to improve and adjust to the pro game.
Matt Tomkins, 23, 6’3″, 207 Lbs.
Tomkins is a prospect to watch. He was the Blackhawks’ seventh-round draft pick in 2012, 199 overall. After the draft, Tomkins spent four seasons seeing the bulk of Ohio State University’s goaltending work, including a senior season where he posted a 12-5-3 record with a 2.48 GAA and a .909 save percentage. He turned pro prior to this season and signed with the IceHogs, and really turned heads to begin the season as a member of the Fuel. In eight appearances he went 4-3 and was shelled in those games to the tune of 37 shots faced per 60 minutes of play. At one point he led all ECHL goalies in save percentage, and currently owns a .931 percentage in his ECHL stint. Tomkins was named the ECHL goaltender of the week December 12 and has been with Rockford since December 27– three days after winning a goalie fight. Tomkins has been praised for a strong glove, a great ability to track the puck and enough athleticism to make tough saves. Tomkins looks poised in the crease by what can be described as a smooth playing style and will be interesting to watch develop in the coming years.
Indy Fuel, East Coast Hockey League
Etienne Marcoux, 24, 6’0″, 168 Lbs.
Marcoux is probably the story of the year for the Fuel and is another prospect to watch. A former goaltender for the University of New Brunswick, where he backstopped back-to-back national championship game appearances, the rookie turned a Fuel training camp tryout invitation into an ECHL All-Star selection. In 19 games he owns a 9-7-0-1 record, but has been phenomenal and outplayed his record. His .929 save percentage ranks third in the ECHL among qualified goaltenders, but his 2.70 GAA ranks 15th, supporting the idea that his individual play has kept the Fuel in games when the defense or offensive support has been inconsistent. Following short stints with Rockford and his hometown AHL Laval Rocket, Marcoux was named the ECHL rookie of the month for December, and the future definitely looks bright. Marcoux, much like Tomkins, displays a technically sound game with enough athleticism to dig out the tough saves.
Greg Dodds, 25, 6’2″, 187 Lbs.
Following the call-ups throughout the organization, the Fuel had to make one of their own. They looked to Dodds, who was playing in the unaffiliated Single-A level Southern Professional Hockey League for the Macon Mayhem at the time. A player for the University of Western Ontario from 2013-2017, Dodds has since spent time with four teams across the ECHL and SPHL before the Fuel called. Dodds is a bit of an enigma, as he has only appeared in 15 professional games, including 16 minutes for the Fuel in a relief appearance. With the domino effect of Crawford’s injury, Dodds may be the one with the most to gain, as he has now latched on at the AA level for the time being and could stick with solid play.
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