The goaltending struggles of the Chicago Blackhawks are no secret to anybody.
The Hawks rolled through the 2011-2012 season with a tandem of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, neither of which were impressive on any sort of consistent basis. Neither recorded a shutout and Crawford even lost his starting job to Emery at one point during the season.
That opened up questions about them both, Crawford in particular since Emery signed a one-year extension before the season was even over. With a limited number of goaltenders out on the market in the offseason, though, the Hawks stood pat, even with an opportunity to nab Roberto Luongo.
Crawford and Emery will head into the season as the tandem, with this likely Crawford’s last shot at establishing himself. Should Crawford falter, Emery isn’t likely going to be able to shoulder the load. Which means the Hawks could look at acquiring a new goaltender, or even perhaps look just a short drive away to the Rockford Icehogs crease.
Carter Hutton is now in his second season with the Icehogs, after posting pretty decent numbers last year. He won 22 of his 43 starts, posted a 2.35 GAA and a .917 save percentage, with three shutouts. He’s no sort of ‘goaltender of the future’, though, given that he’s already 26.
But Hutton could end up providing at least a temporary fix to the Hawks’ goaltending woes. He was very strong in Rockford’s opener on Saturday, not allowing a goal in the game, though the Icehogs went on to fall in a shootout. He’s about the same size as Crawford, but whether or not he’d be an actual upgrade remains to be seen.
At his ceiling, Hutton might just end up being a backup goaltender in the NHL at some point, if that. We really don’t know. But he’s going to be one of many intriguing players to watch for this Icehogs team, and might end up being an insurance policy if Crawford continues to struggle whenever the regular season begins.